The Buzz: Ski Area News Archive January thru April 2015

hosted by Rick Bolgerwith correspondents throughout the world

10 April 2015 Many in the country looking down the barrel at the final weekend for lift-served skiing. Today we'll do a round-up of some key players who will be banging it up Sunday, and next week see who's left standing...Jiminy Peak Massachusetts will wrap it up Sunday, which will give them a 133 day season...Bolton Valley VT will be more or less 100% open, including the Timberline section, then they'll shut her down Sunday afternoon. Always found it odd that BV's "timberline" is the lowest part of the ski area...southern Vermont's Bromley gonna bang it up Sunday at 3:00 pm, they traditionally reserve the final hour of the season for an employee party, which is well deserved...in New Hampshire the ever-popular Loon Mountain has also announced last call, they're about 2/3 open...the terrific Black Mountain of Maine reopening for a last hurrah Saturday and Sunday...and we'll leave you with one that isn't closing, here's the view from partway up Sugarloaf Maine, and this was taken yesterday.... ...believe it or not. Have a great weekend, back Monday.

8 April 2015 Snow, as in better late than never, may just give Squaw Valley and a couple of other Tahoe areas a late season shot in the arm...Boreal benefitted from the same storm, 11" overnight, great late season conditions there...up to 15" new snow in the last three days along the spine in Vermont; Sugarbush, Mad River Glen, Bolton Valley; Bolton closed until Friday but reports are that the earn-your-turns crowd is slicing it up. Bolton gonna spin Fri-Sat-Sun and bang it up. MRG open daily with beautiful conditions, and I gotta remind intermediates that there is PLENTY there for the non-expert, don't let the "ski it if you can" slogan deter you. Upper Antelope to Catamount is routinely and regularly groomed, giving all but the true novice access to that wonderful single chair terrain...speaking of wonderful, we say "thanks for the memories" to actor James Best who passed away yesterday... ...and back to the slopes we have to report that some of the best skiing in the country today is at Sugarloaf in Maine, powder turns yesterday, wonderful snow today...Wildcat NH has incredible midwinter conditions right now, 100% open and they're quite confident about that May 3rd closing date...Midwest biggie Lutsen announces they're open daily through Sunday, then they'll close midweek and spin for a season finale next weekend and shut her down on the 19th...speaking of Lutsen, sorry to report that 32-year-old Andrea Matyuska of Thunder Bay, Ontario was reported missing after spending Sunday snowboarding at the Northern Minnesota resort. Cook County Search and Rescue and the Lutsen Ski Patrol participated with the Sheriff's Office in a search operation, and Matyuska was found dead on one of the ski trails around 7:00 AM Monday. No criminal activity is suspected; we'll keep you posted. In the meantime, our thoughts and prayers are with her family.

6 April 2015 Fresh powder finally at Squaw Valley today...New snow over the weekend has Arapahoe Basin in great shape...upper midwest small but mighty Ski Brule still 100% open although they are closed on the Homestead side during weekdays...NY metro throwback area Plattekill had such a good turnout, they're gonna spin the lifts one more time this coming weekend...look north to New Hampshire and Wildcat is the undisputed king of spring, they're 100% open, including the natural trails like Lift Lion and Hairball...more lift concerns at Sugarloaf, they shut down the Timberline chair based on concerns that it's the same make as the one that shed passengers a couple weeks ago. Doesn't matter much for this season, as most of the terrain it serves is getting a bit thin...one more tragedy for the season, seems 76-year-old Rosa Donabedian of Devens MA was XC skiing around Mirror Lake, MA and fell through the ice last Wednesday, her body was found a day later...Long Island NY resident Alexis Siegel, 42 was skiing on the Hawkeye Trail at Deer Valley last month when a teenager supposedly flew 25 feet off "an improper and unsafe" jump and "violently collided" with Ms. Siegel, who is now suing the teen's family...and finally in Minnesota, state-run Giant's Ridge ski resort and golf course is causing a bit of a hubbub with plans to build a new $12 million base lodge; seems the resort has been bleeding money for years, and taxpayers are a bit perturbed.

Thanks for joining me here at Ski Bum USA...We'll be doing more work on this site in the days ahead, the idea is that Gondyline will be exclusively devoted to history, lost ski areas, ski collectables, and generally where the sport has been...while Ski Bum USA is devoted to the here and now. Readers of this column deserve my personal thanks with a free USA sticker for your helmet, or your board, or whatever. Just e-mail your mailing address to sticker -at- skibumusa -dot- com and say "send me a Ski Bum USA sticker." They look like this:

Use this to get Lift Tickets at Discount: There is a "clearinghouse" of sorts that many ski areas use to raise cash by selling discount tickets in advance, called Liftopia . If you haven't used this service, it is usually best to know for certain that you are going on a specific date. The deeply discounted tickets must be purchased in advance; generally up to two days out. The sticking point is that some ski resorts only make a limited number of tickets available to Liftopia for any given day, so they might be sold out if you wait too long...so, as soon as you are absolutely, positively sure that you will be skiing on a certain day, click this link to get deeply discounted tickets . I've used this service many times, usually when I am absolutely certain I will be skiing on a specific date. Some resorts offer "flex" tickets with which you can specify the date, and some have a few different tiers of pricing. In other words, you might be able to get a lift ticket that can be used on different days, but you'll pay a little more for that privilege. You need to have access to a printer to print out your receipt, and you have to take identification with you to the mountain. I've knocked a third off -- even half off -- the price of some tickets. Not every area participates, but it's well worth checking before you head to the slopes.

A tiny portion of your Liftopia purchase helps fund this website, at no added cost.

2 April 2015 Midwesterners who listen close will be surprised to hear the unmistakable sound of compressors firing up Friday night, that will be Ski Brule up in Iron River, MI cranking the snowmaking one more time. As you can see by the photo below (taken this morning) they still have plenty of product, but they're gunning to have the longest season in the heartland... ...and Brule is putting out a fabulous Sunday brunch spread, with ham and eggs, steak and potatoes, hotcakes, you name it just $10/person. Goes til 2:00 pm so you got plenty of time for Easter services, just go easy on the chocolate bunny...last week of operations for the season at Pac NW Anthony Lakes, and they got 6" of snow yesterday to make it all good...Attitash NH shutting it down after this weekend, they'll be sending passholders to sister area Wildcat which is optimistically talking about staying open until May 3rd. Let's hope...two new seasonals to look forward to in the Magic Hat summer pack...what I meant to say was, two of the New England resorts re-opening for the weekend include Pico VT and Cranmore NH...Pennsy's Big Boulder looks like they'll have some park action open this weekend...as always, Snowbasin UT serving Sunday services 2:00 pm up at the Needles Lodge...Loon NH offering a non-denominational Easter sunrise service atop Loon Peak Sunday...Stratton VT reopening the Sun Lodge this weekend, that's great if you're headed to Stratton, much easier to navigate than that ghastly parking garage and phony village at the main base...Jiminy Peak Massachusetts gonna extend the season through April 12, they'll have five lifts spinning this weekend...Eldora CO still going strong, 100% of beginner and intermediate terrain open and they're in the sights of a snowstorm due to hit tomorrow night...Bromley VT looking at 100% of terrain open, they're gonna shut down after this Sunday but reopen for the following weekend only...Lindsey Vonn made an appearance at Park City Mountain Resort yesterday, taking a run down the Claim Jumper trail and symbolically skiing across a designated flat area that will serve as the PCMR base for the upcoming gondy connection to The Canyons. Lindsey made some little speech about how great the new combined jumbo resort will be. But who really cares about that, she could babble gibberish and we'd hang on every syllable...back on Monday

1 April 2015 Yesterday's photo is the pond skim at Ski El Paso; everything's bigger in Texas...ok, bad April Fool's joke. That's one of the fine views from Lutsen Mountains in Minnesota...a lot of areas banging it up in the northeast, although quite a few are reopening for the weekend...Swain NY will reopen for a final bash on Saturday with $10 tickets...Western PA biggie Seven Springs gonna spin the lifts Saturday and Sunday...some tentative dates announced in Vermont; Okemo was April 5th but now talking daily until April 12 with weekends after that...nearby Stratton says April 12th is last chair for sure...Hunter NY scheduled to be open daily through the 12th as well...back to northern Minnesota, Wild Mountain/Taylors Falls Recreation plans to work with a group of Japanese investors to invest $250 to $300 million over the next ten years to build a 120 unit hotel and restaurant with retail shopping areas, located at the existing Wild Mountain site. Next phase would be development of 150 acres of nearby land into new lift serviced terrain. This area is ´┐Żland locked´┐Ż but they plan to access it via a new high speed six, and the new terrain would be accessible from the main mountain. Last part of the plan is to purchase a couple hundred acres in nearby St Croix Falls, and connect to it with a twelve passenger, two way high speed gondola. This would have an 18 hole golf course and 175 acres of further new terrain, about half of which would be quasi-extreme terrain. Those are some impressive plans...sorry to report the second known skier fatality to occur during a fundraising event this season; 58-year-old Karen Oatey of Jackson WY suffered a cerebral aneurism during the alpine skiing leg of the Pole Pedal Paddle event at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort Saturday morning. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family.

31 March 2015 "Component failure" on the Sunrise lift at Mt Bachelor in Bend, Oregon caused an empty chair to plunge some 20' to the ground Sunday afternoon; the lift was closed for the rest of the day but oddly enough is running today...Vail Resorts Inc. going international, about as far international as possible, buying a handful of resorts in New Zealand or Australia, something like that...3" fresh overnight at Lutsen MN which has announced daily operations til April 12th, and they'll attempt to go into May on the Eagle Mountain section...northern New York's Titus Mountain will close Saturday after their longest season in history...eastern Pennsy's Ski Big Bear plans to reopen Fri-Sat-Sun...great spring corn conditions at Squaw Valley. It's a shame much of the rest of the season was such a bust. Anyway, no sense crying over spilled milk; they're doing the pond skim thing on Saturday...fresh snow at Wildcat NH serving awesome conditions...here's a mystery photo, where are we, answer tomorrow... ...pond skimming also scheduled in New York's Catskills this weekend, both Hunter and Belleayre serving up the annual spring hijinks. I think it might be chilly...pond skimming does have a darker side, but not too dark, this past weekend a teenage girl was hurt during such an exhibition at Black Mountain of Maine. Although her injuries did not seem serious, she was taken to an area hospital as a precaution...sorry to report that 40-year-old man, name unreleased but believed to be Mark Knee of Ludington, MI, died Sunday morning at Crystal Mountain MI. Witnesses say he was skiing extremely fast on the intermediate Abbey Road trail on the area's north face when he lost control, careened off the trail and hit a tree. This was the second fatality at the mountain since 1956. Crystal will be open through this weekend...Mammoth Mountain CA talking about running lifts into May...in Colorado, Loveland says they'll be open until May 3rd...over the hill, Arapahoe Basin is saying they'll go through May and aim for June...in Oregon, Timberline plans to operate for spring skiing until May 25th, then operate Palmer...the above mentioned Bachelor is aiming for Memorial Day...and I'll end on a good note, Brandywine Ohio plans to reopen tomorrow in honor of April 1st, no foolin'.

30 March 2015 wildfire near Red Lodge Mountain in Montana led to the evacuation of about 650 skiers on Saturday. The wind died down and the fire remained some three miles from the mountain, so it reopened Sunday. The disappointed skiers were all given vouchers. Red Lodge will be open until April 15...April looms and the lifts are shutting down here and there; that's really a shame because many areas are still serving up mid-winter conditions. A lot of ski resorts have trail counts now that are far better than they were during Christmas break. The few open trails were mobbed back in December; the plethora of open trails are empty today. Doesn't make much sense to die hard skiers, but fact is most of the country has moved beyond winter. For those of you who still can get out there, the next month should be fantastic...Pac NW bright spot Anthony Lakes closes this weekend...Caberfae Peaks in MI banged it up yesterday...Stratton VT has shut down the Sun Bowl Lodge for the season...even some of the NY/New England rope tows still have plenty of snow, but they're all done. For example, small but mighty Dynamite Hill in Chestertown, NY still has plenty to ski on, but you'll have to walk back up...Mountain Creek NJ done for the season, they'll spin 'em one last time on April 1st at the Vernon Valley side...sorry to report that 35-year-old Benjamin Taylor of Bethel, Maine died at Sunday River last Wednesday. He was skiing on the Black Hole trail on Aurora when he hit some trees. Taylor was said to be an expert skier, and an employee at the Riv skiing on his day off...speaking of Maine, latest news on that wayward lift at Sugarloaf has Partek Ski Lifts , based in Pine Island, New York, advising resorts using Borvig and Partek chairlifts to do safety checks, especially on an electrical switch that's believed to have contributed to the Sugarloaf accident. The National Ski Areas Association says there are about 170 lifts in service that may be affected by the problem...the ongoing zaniness continues with that University of Michigan fraternity that wreaked havoc at Treetops MI, seems now their bank account is frozen...Vail Resorts has been given the green light by Park City, UT government to link Park City Mountain Resort and The Canyons to create a 7,300 acre ski area, which will be the largest in the nation....more tomorrow.

24 March 2015 Season sucked in much of the Pac NW, one bright spot was Anthony Lakes Resort which is still going strong and grabbed another 6" of snow over the weekend...meanwhile Mt Hood Skibowl gave up on the season and opened their various bike trails and bungee trampolines at the Skibowl Adventure Park this past weekend...4" fresh snow yesterday at Squaw Valley CA...and the rich get richer; 16" fresh snow yesterday on parts of Snowbird UT...season over at Ohio's Boston Mills but sister area Brandywine should be open this weekend...New York's Windham scheduled to stay open into April...Vermont's legendary Cochran's closed up for the season this past weekend. Still plenty of snow there but spring sports taking their customers away...up the street Bolton Valley still has plenty of coverage, great skiing in the trees and gladed trails in addition to their well known gentle groomers...Sorry to report that 23-year-old Terence Scott of Nashua, NH died Saturday at Killington VT after losing control and crashing into multiple trees somewhere along the High Road trail. Scott's helmet came off during the crash and he was pronounced dead at the scene. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family...after two major lift accidents in five years, people are starting to talk that something just doesn't add up at Sugarloaf Resort in Maine. That's a shame, as it is one of the best areas in the east...and the US Alpine Championships will be contested this week, indeed at Sugarloaf on the Narrow Gauge trail, consisting of Super G races Wednesday, followed by alternating womens and mens technical races Thursday through Sunday. The US Downhill Championship event was held on the same trail last week, however the leading US racers including Lindsey Vonn, Mikaela Shiffrin, Steve Nyman and others were all in Meribel for the World Cup finals. Vonn, Shiffrin, Nyman and other names are expected to compete at the Loaf. Spectators are welcome to hike or ski to the course...

23 March 2015 Big news all over the wires concerning problems with the King Pine Quad at Sugarloaf Maine, which had a rollback Saturday morning, injuring seven. The lift pod is shut down pending thorough investigation...The White Circus known as FIS World Cup wrapped up this weekend in Meribel with a down-to-the-wire battle for the women's overall championship, seesawing between Tina Maze and Anna Fenninger. It finally went to the Austrian Fenninger following a decisive victory in the Giant Slalom final, while Maze finished third in that race and second overall. Maze held a slim lead going into the day, and after the 1-3 finish, Fenninger won the overall by just 22 points. Her teammate Eva-Marie Brem was second. Lindsey Vonn managed a fifth place, giving her a third place finish in the overall, albeit back a bit. Mikaela Shiffrin was fourth. On the men's side, Marcel Hirscher had the overall globe cinched, and put down an impressive win in the final Slalom to edge Germany's Felix Neureuther for that globe. Here are your 2014-2015 Season Champs:
Mens
Downhill -- Kjetil Jansrud, Norway
Super G -- Kjetil Jansrud, Norway
Giant Slalom -- Marcel Hirscher, Austria
Slalom -- Marcel Hirscher, Austria
Combined -- Carlo Janka, Switzerland
Overall -- Marcel Hirscher, Austria
Womens
Downhill -- Lindsey Vonn, USA
Super G -- Lindsey Vonn, USA
Giant Slalom -- Anna Fenninger, Austria
Slalom -- Mikaela Shiffrin, USA
Combined -- Anna Fenninger, Austria
Overall -- Anna Fenninger, Austria
...this is Hirscher's fourth consecutive overall; he's the first to accomplish that feat. Great season, still can't believe Vonn came back with such dominance in the speed disciplines...and we're sorry to see Dominique Gisin retire at age 29 following the events this weekend. The Swiss starlet competed for eight seasons with three wins and seven podiums. She also surprised the world with Downhill gold at Sochi last year...and the season is wrapping up here and there...Montage Pennsylvania banged it up yesterday...Middlebury Snow Bowl VT says this coming Sunday 29th is the end, even though they have plenty of snow...others saying, not so fast, Squaw Valley CA made snow this weekend...same deal at Wildcat NH, they cranked up the guns last Thursday and they're talking about staying open well into April and possibly into May...nearby Black Mountain of Maine says they'll be open through April 12, which is quite impressive considering they were nearly out of business a year ago...Grand Targhee has the benefit of all that Teton snow, they plan to be open until the end of April or thereabouts...Snowbird UT doesn't even consider anything "Spring" until April 1st, and they're offering a pass that goes from then until the end, probably June, for $239...Oak Mountain Speculator, NY doing a last hurrah this coming Saturday...Never Summer Snowboards offering demos tomorrow and Wednesday at Loveland Colorado...more tomorrow..."thanks for the memories" goes out to the late Chuck Bednarik, below center, who succumbed to age and dementia this weekend...

18 March 2015 The Aurora borealis put on a great show last night at a couple of northern ski areas from Maine to Michigan, perhaps the best light show was at Sugarloaf...new snow yesterday at Mt Bachelor helping to put a better face on their season, which was excellent by most standards but was a bit of a wheezing start according to the jaded locals...First results from the FIS World Cup season finals in Meribel, the incredible Lindsey Vonn resoundingly won the ladies downhill and with it the discipline title for the season. This is her 18th globe, which is incredible. Tina Maze finished fourth while Anna Fenninger was back a bit, so Maze closed the overall to a mere handful of points. Meanwhile in the mens downhill, Kjetil Jansrud seems to have his mojo back. The Norwegian won the race, and with it the title. It's his second career globe. Here's Linz in action on the Meribel piste... ...speaking of Sugarloaf and race titles, the big Maine hill saw the US Alpine Championships contested on Narrow Gauge yesterday. Julia Ford of Concord, MA won the women's national downhill title, while Aspen's Wiley Maple won the men's downhill...Pac NW news Anthony Lakes has announced April 5 as closing day...Michigan's small but mighty Ski Brule checks in with 100% of terrain open. It's still winter on the Upper Peninsula, in case you were curious...kudos to Montage Mountain in Pennsy, doing a Downhill for Downs Syndrome fundraiser on the 21st...Wild Mountain in MN confirms this is the last weekend, $20 tix, $10 if you come with a passholder. They've got all but three runs open...skier ducked the ropes at Aspen yesterday, caused an avy in the Highland Bowl. Don't duck ropes...and finally today, elsewhere in Colorado the US Forest Service has given the nod to Eldora Resort's bid for expansion. Plans include new and upgraded lifts, 66 acres of new trails, 77 acres of tree and gladed skiing areas, a new lodge below the upper terminus of the Indian Peaks lift, and expansion of Lookout lodge. Opponents have 45 days to object, and word is that a number of environmental groups are rattling their sabres. Stay tuned...

17 March 2015 Happy Saint Patrick's Day! Good day for on mountain specials, one that comes to mind is the $17 Mount Ellen only ticket at Sugarbush VT...Allentown PA suburban area Bear Creek will shut the season down this coming Sunday at 4 pm...Vail Resorts Inc. just announced the first major shake up to the status quo at Park City Mountain Resort, which is that next year there will be no more "pay to play" which is the premium ticket price for preferred liftlines. Previously PCMR had this available both on season passes and daily tix, and it will be honored through the end of the season. Personally I'm glad to see this go...speaking of, er, not speaking of Vail Resorts, trade association Colorado Ski Country, which reports for all of the Colorado ski areas (with the exception of Vail Resorts) says that skier/boarder visits are up 3.7 percent for Jan/Feb versus last season. Total season visitation thus far is up 1.9 percent over the 2013-14 season, which holds the record with 12.6 million skier visits. I suppose once Vail reports we can plug their numbers in; I imagine it's sky-high considering the recent World Championships at Beaver Creek...Ladies' FIS World Cup downhill training second run today in Meribel France, again Lindsey Vonn must've tucked through the finish because she recorded fastest time. Men also arrived in Meribel, first DH training saw Swiss great Didier DeFago fastest. Ted Ligety might take a crack at this, not sure why, overall standings perhaps...sad to report that 53-year-old Dan Huebner of Flagstaff AZ died of an apparent heart attack while backcountry skiing on the San Francisco Peaks Saturday. Huebner was on Mt. Aggassiz' Doyle Saddle at the 11,400' level when he collapsed; friend tried CPR for about 45 minutes before skiing to the Arizona Snowbowl to seek help. Sheriff's department says Huebner and his friend were highly experienced BC skiers and well prepared for the outing....reports are that Hannah Kearney, one of the all-time great mogul skiers, will be retiring from active competition after the season finale at Steamboat. The past Olympic champion will retire as FIS world champion this season, and we certainly wish her well. And of course we all thank Hannah for her fine skiing, sportsmanship, and competitive spirit... ...57-year-old unnamed backcountry skier injured on the Klondike Trail in the Adirondacks Sunday, recued within an hour by State DEC and safely transported to a Lake Placid hospital; he'll be fine...California/Nevada's Heavenly Resort says they'll stick it out until their scheduled April 19 closing date...Alpine Meadows still talking about May 3rd.

16 March 2015 California's Sierra-at-Tahoe has banged it up for the season, lack of snow...Season holding on nicely in the Rockies, Arapahoe Basin added almost 6" of fresh this weekend...mixed bag in New England; for example Mount Snow in Southern Vermont saw snow/rain/snow and now most of the natural snow trails are closed today. By contrast, Attitash in Northern New Hampshire got 6" of wet snow yesterday morning, and a couple inches fluff last night. They managed to drop the ropes on steep Middle Ptarmigan for what I believe is the first time this winter...Pac NW rain has currently shut down Anthony Lakes, they intend to reopen Thursday...opposite northeast biggie Sugarloaf beautiful coating of fresh and spring is nowhere to be seen...elsewhere, spring is getting in swing, if not the weather then certainly a lack of skier/snowboarder traffic...Wild Mountain MN closed for the week, planning to reopen Friday but they aren't certain yet...Maple Ridge New York usually bangs it up right about now, but this year they have enough white stuff they're gonna hang on Fridays/Saturdays/Sundays...southern NY Mt Peter has gone to spring hours, meaning the only night skiing will be on Saturdays...and Whitetail in Southern Pennsy has announced that next weekend is the end of the season. Here's a quick glance at their conditions this morning: ...and now to the waning weeks of the FIS World Cup aka the White Circus. Ladies' action this weekend saw Austria's Anna Fenninger clawing on to her slim lead for the overall by winning the GS event in Are Sweden on Friday. Teammate Eva Maria Brem finished third, while Italian Nadia Fanchini was second. Mikaela Shiffrin put in an impressive fourth place finish, which put Mikaela in third place for the discipline and the overall as well. Tina Maze, battling Fenninger for the overall, finished a lackluster 20th and the pundits say she doesn't seem to have much left. Real takeaway from this is just how strong Fenninger has been, as Tina's lead was overwhelming just a few short weeks ago. Shiffrin returned to the hill Saturday to win the slalom race, followed by Slovakia's Veronkia Velez Zuzlova and Czech Republic's Sarka Strachova. Maze had an opportunity to gain on Fenninger but only managed a 16th place finish. Shiffrin, for her part, has the discipline globe all but packed and shipped. Men meanwhile were in Kranjska Gora Slovenia for a pair of tech events; Frenchman Alexis Pinturault won the GS Saturday, followed by Austria's Marcel Hirscher and Frenchman Thomas Fanara. Ted Ligety was fourth. Hirscher has a lock on the discipline globe, and of course a big lead on the overall. Men were back in action yesterday for the slalom race, which had Norwegian Henrik Kristoffersen edging Italian Giuliano Razzoli, who had the lead after the first run. Hirscher and Felix Neureuther, who are battling for the discipline globe, were 6th and 9th respectively. Neureuther seems likely to hold his lead for slalom season honors...first DH training run this morning in Meribel had Lindsey Vonn fastest; that's odd since Linz usually stands up before she crosses the line, just to keep the competition guessing....NCAA Skiing Championship wrapped up Saturday in Lake Placid. First place as expected was University of Colorado, followed by U of Denver, U of Utah, U of Vermont, U of New Mexico. Eight winners came from seven different schools, which is very cool.

12 March 2015 very little good news out of the Pac NW this season, one bright spot has been Anthony Lakes, they got a dusting of snow overnight and they'll be doing half price tix on Saturday...temps are rising in the midwest and east, but northern sections are still in very good shape; Stratton VT got an inch of fresh overnight...more snow has fallen at Whiteface NY and they announced today that the Slides are now open; here's a photo of the infamous slides... ...and of course the NCAA Ski Championships are in town, nordie events yesterday saw team scores about as expected: University of Colorado, followed by U of Utah, followed by U of Vermont. Dartmouth sophomore Patrick Caldwell and Utah freshman Veronika Mayerhofer claimed the individual titles in the mens and womens freestyle races at Mt. Van Hoevenberg. Caldwell hails from a long family line of Dartmouth XC standouts; his cousin is Olympian Sophie Caldwell. Mayerhofer is a 22-year-old Austrian national former FIS World Cup and Sochi Olympic competitor in her first year of NCAA eligibility. Humph.

11 March 2015 This morning Okemo VT announced they'll stay open until at least April 5, and hope to go later...Cranmore NH doing a start-a-friend-free day Sunday; first 100 to register get a free lesson and rental...Hunter NY just dropped ticket prices as the temps in Central Park (in the city) hit 60 today, using their online buying link, Saturday tix end of March have a top price of $49.

10 March 2015 Recent report from Unofficial Networks says Alyeska Resort in Alaska has the most snow this season; I've been saying Jackson Hole WY which they list as second, semi-surprise Jay Peak VT is third...Returned from the ashes Crotched Mountain NH will be holding a telefest this coming Saturday...Northern New York's Titus Mountain scheduled their end-of-season festival for this coming Saturday, but they have so much snow they plan to stay open easily into April. They're gonna have the party anyway...sorry to saya 61-year-old woman died while skiing at Lookout Pass WA on Sunday, she went off the Rainbow Ridge trail and hit a tree...last week I dutifully promoted a terrific fundraiser for the New Hampshire Make-A-Wish Foundation scheduled for yesterday at Wildcat. In a most horrible turn of events, 34-year-old Samuel Moore of North Conway died while participating. Apparently he lost control near the bottom of the mountain...both of the aforementioned skiers were wearing helmets...NCAA Championships kick off tomorrow in Lake Placid NY; if you want a preview of who's who in this event, please click here for the official NCAA rosters. As far as I can tell, the only teams fully represented are Universities of Colorado, Utah, Vermont, Denver, and New Mexico (sorry if I've missed any) and the pundits predict that's how the team finish will stack up...here's a timely photo, from the XC Olympic Center in Lake Placid where our best and brightest collegiate skiers will be competing... ...with thanks to ORDA/Dave Schmidt for the photo...and the Colorado Ski Train will be running this weekend to Winter Park. As reported previously, tickets sold out so quickly they added a second day, and that sold out as well. Now there are all sorts of rumblings that this may take off again; although the service stopped in 2009 due to waning interest and rising costs, those in the know are saying that traffic on I-70 is worse now than 2009, and the 65-mile rail route takes just 2 hours even though it passes through 29 tunnels and climbs 4,000 feet. And while a two hour train ride is a lot more attractive than a crawling ride up I-70 and then over tricky Berthoud Pass, resumption of full service would require Union Pacific, Amtrak, Winter Park Resort, and owners of Denver's Union Station to agree on all of it. The original Ski Train started in 1940...urban Pennsy areas Spring Mountain and Bear Creek report a brisk business this past weekend, giving both a much needed shot in the arm after unusually low temps kept the slopes half full for much of February...operators of Michigan's Mount Bohemia are planning to take things one step further with plans for something called Voodoo Mountain, a cat-skiing only operation hoping to offer a western quality powder skiing experience on the U.P...in other Michigan news, Boyne Highlands holding their big "Brew-Ski" festival this weekend.

9 March 2015 Friday mystery photo is a then-live image from Mt. Shasta Ski Park in northern California. they've had consecutive crappy seasons and we're hoping they can endure...kudos to Arapahoe Basin CO opened their new "Kids Center" last week and it's already a hit with families. The three-story, $2.3 million building will be open from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. seven days a week during the regular season. By the way, 100% of terrain, including East Wall, is open at A-Basin. 49" of snow at the mid-mountain stake...mid-mountain stake at Mount Snow VT still at 2' settled depth, that's on a North Face lift tower...well it's not even mid-March, the snow is great (in most places) but many are already starting to offer some fantastic deals. One that pops out is $15 weekday tix, $20 anytime tix at Tussey Mountain, a modest but mighty hill in Central Pennsylvania...in eastern PA, Blue Mountain is running a clever "mercury rising" promotion; discounts off window price will be based on the forecasted high temp for any given day. For example, if the forecast calls for a high of 51 F, tix are priced 50% off...Belleayre NY is taking a different approach, they're doing midweek tix this week at $10 for anyone age 65+...Kjetil Jansrud won the mens Super G on his home turf in Kvitfjell yesterday; Austrian Vincent Kreichmeyer and Canadian Dustin Cook filled out the podium; American Andrew Weibrecht was a respectable 5th. On Saturday Austria's Hannes Reichelt won the downhill, putting him within 15 points of Jansrud for the discipline globe. Canadian veteran Manny Osborne-Paradis was second, with Italian Werner Heel in third. Jansrud added to his point total with a seventh place finish...ladies meanwhile were in Garmisch-Partenkirchen and if anything, the standings are now tighter than ever. Tina Weirather won the downhill Saturday, with overall contenders Anna Fenninger and Tina Maze second and third. Lindsey Vonn was seventh. Yesterday's Super G saw Vonn take the top spot, followed naturally by Maze and Fenninger! Maze is now just 40 points ahead of Fenninger for the overall championship, while Vonn has a fairly firm grip on both the downhill and super G globes. More backstory here, one of Maze's coaches, Valerio Ghirardi, was drawn to set the Super G course and Vonn says he clearly set it against Fenninger's style. Fear not, whenever one of Anna's coaches is drawn to set a course, they will dutifully set it against Maze. That's the way it goes in ski racing...The U.S. Forest Service has given a tentative but approving nod toward the proposed Heavenly Mountain Resort Epic Discovery project, designed to increase summer visits with a mountain bike park, kayaking and paddle-boarding, zip-lines and mountain coasters...season has finally turned decent for Mt Ashland in Southern Oregon; they've got four lifts spinning and even have their bowl open. Advantage Ashland has over some other Oregon areas is its elevation, base is 6,338'. Seems this year the magic number is 6,000; below that there ain't no snow. Ashland did have to use dozers and dump trucks to move snow in order to get the beginner Sonnet chair open...big fire at a condo complex at Killington VT Saturday night, fortunately everyone got out ok. Fire believed to have started in a chimney....New York's Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul of Buffalo slightly injured her ribs and wrist in a tumble Saturday at Whiteface, she was treated and released...Bogus Basin Montana has shifted to their spring schedule, meaning the mountain closes at 4:30 with no night skiing.

6 March 2015 Starting off with a good cause here, calling New England area skiers to Bromley Resort 2:00 pm tomorrow, Limitless Luau & Craft Beer Tasting Fundraiser, $25 for the Bart Center, AKA The Bart J. Ruggiere Center for Adaptive Sports. They'll have a bunch of terrific Vermont micro brews and it helps adaptive skiing! I don't know if it's possible to come up with a better combination than that...that's not to diminish the Michael Gray Memorial Ski & Snowboard Race tomorrow at Windham, another great fundraiser for adaptive programs...in Colorado Loveland reporting pow in the trees, pow in the bowls, pow everywhere; they're hosting their annual Family Fun Races this weekend, dual timed slaloms with no entry fee...back to Vermont, Pico Peak just announced that they'll open April 4-5 for a bonus weekend, normally they bang it up end of March. I know it's not called that anymore, but I don't care...kudos to Wildcat NH they're doing their annual 100k vertical challenge this coming Monday for benefit of NH Make-A-Wish Foundation. Last year they raised $147,000...ladies did get in a DH training run this morning in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Tina Weirather, representing Liechtenstein, was quickest...men's second DH training run this morning in Kvitfjell saw Steven Nyman tally the fastest descent...back to Vermont, Magic Mountain hosting a "professional snocross" tomorrow, whatever the hell that is...New England Ski Industry.com reports that Sugarbush VT will finally replace the Valley House double during the off-season. Yes it's a fossil, but it's seen a lot of skiers and we're a bit sad to see it go...Willamette Pass Oregon has cancelled the season, offering passholders to simply hold their passes for next season, and they'll throw in a couple freebies. Tough year in the Cascades...most of the country has been enjoying a great season, but not everywhere, so this week's "mystery photo" is designed to remind those of us with good snow, just how fortunate we've been... ...that's a base area camshot, taken this morning. Yikes. Answer Monday...more dreary news, Mt Waterman in So. California got some snow, but not enough, they won't be open this weekend...three backcountry skiers rescued yesterday after an avalanche near Vail in the Pitkin Creek drainage, one with a broken leg. The three men survived thanks to being prepared with avy gear...speaking of Vail, some of the numbers are in from the recent FIS World Championships held at Beaver Creek. No, not the bottom line, just the expenses. Here goes: Total cost, $59 million; cost to state, local governments $5-$6 million; volunteers required, 2200. On the revenue side, the only number we know for sure is that TV rights and sponsorships brought in $36 million. Now we do have some other numbers: approximate number of total international TV viewers, 1 billion; local attendance at races and at concerts, 200,000; attendance at mens downhill was 10,000 in the stadium and 15,000 along the race course. Those are some pretty good numbers! Back on Monday.

5 March 2015 More on that California storm: Alpine Meadows got 28', six lifts and 43 runs now open; Boreal Mountain Resort grabbed 22", seven lifts serving 30 runs; Diamond Peak Nev., gained two feet, they're spinning five lifts for 22 runs; neighboring Mt. Rose in Reno gained 10", Northstar in Truckee, CA reports 16"...and we're pleased to report that nordie haven Royal Gorge (which is near Boreal) was finally able to open its beautiful XC trails...yet there are still naysayers in the Bay area who are saying "too little, too late" in response. I'd like to see them try and survive ski season in southern Pennsylvania or maybe Missouri...in Minnesota Wild Mountain reporting 4" of fresh snow, talking about staying open through March 29...two feet of new snow this week at Alta and Snowbird, then blue skies yesterday, that's what we're talking about...more snow in the mid-Atlantic, Snowshoe WV being pounded... ...and drawing a nice crowd this morning, as this webcam grab shows. Some weather prognosticators saying this is winter's last hurrah in the region, and if that's the case, it's been a darn fine year...FIS World Cup womens downhill training run in Garmisch-Partenkirchen cancelled this morning. Men did their DH training in Kvitfjell; Austrian star Hannes Reichelt was quickest...lot of hubbub in New England these days concerning the one and only Les B. Otten, who , if you aren't aware, was the big wheel behind the now-defunct American Skiing Company that once operated Killington, Mount Snow, Steamboat, The Canyons and others, beginning as a shoestring operation at then-tiny Sunday River. Now Mr. Otten has his hands on the once esteemed Balsams/Wilderness resort and ski area in lonely Dixville Notch, NH, with the promise to rebuild and restore to past grandeur. His team of developers recently unveiled plans that surpass all expectations, with a monstrous redrawn map of a sprawling ski area that would easily be the largest in the east. Shock and awe, to say the least...since we're talking about the east, great event Saturday at bootstrap operation Black Mountain of Maine, $35 tix help a local fundraiser, get you a lift ticket, nordie pass, and tubing if that's your pleasure. Also includes a bag lunch, commemorative pass, demo opportunities, and a beer tasting hosted by Allagash Brewing which alone is worth the price of admission...ski patrol fundraiser Saturday at Plattekill NY, capped off by a torchlight parade...elsewhere in the Empire State, underrated Swain Resort serving up a "dollar day" on March 19th; get a lift ticket for a buck...confessions of a midwest ski area, Paoli Peaks Indiana was closed earlier this week due to rain, ice, locusts, etc. then turned around and grabbed 5" of fresh snow yesterday. I have the utmost respect for these small but mighty midwest operations who ride these crazy waves just keep on truckin' along...speaking of which, Boston Mills/Brandywine Ohio doing another Day of the Dude tomorrow (Friday), from 5-10 pm all guys ski for just one dollar...glad to report that 66-year-old Herbert Jones of Richmond VT was found safe and sound after being lost in the boonies of Underhill State Park VT for some six hours after a backcountry ski session. Underhill is near Smuggler's Notch and at one time had a fairly sizable lift served ski area...the Navajo Nation continues grandstanding with a recent petition to have the United States Government declared in violation of human rights due to treated effluent being used for snowmaking at Arizona Snowbowl in Flagstaff. Petition was filed with something called the "Inter-American Commission on Human Rights" claiming the snowmaking violates their religious freedom. Hate to break it to them, but treated effluent is cleaner and safer than the acid rain that falls on that most holy mountain...March 13-14 marks HellRoaring Ski Heritage Days to re-enact and honor Big Mountain Montana's golden era with festivities to help raise money for the Flathead Ski Heritage Center and the Flathead Valley Ski Education Foundation.

4 March 2015 Skiers who believe that the rules somehow don't apply to them have been learning otherwise recently at Aspen's Snowmass Resort, where the village police department has issued 12 citations in the past week for entering closed in-bounds terrain. Because this violates the Colorado Skier Safety Act, as well as local law, first time offenders are likely to be hit with a $150 fine. The most recent case involved three Pennsylvania residents who ducked a rope to ski Garrett's Gulch on Monday. Another violator was on a run as patrollers were blasting for avy control. I don't agree with everything SkiCo says, but in this case when spokesman Jeff Hanle said, "if ski patrol closes a run, it's for a reason," I couldn't agree more...University of Utah and University of Colorado both sending full complements of 12 qualifiers to the NCAAs in Lake Placid next week. The University of Vermont Catamounts, with 20 consecutive carnival wins, will also be top contenders....5" fresh over most of Steamboat overnight.

3 March 2015 Huzzah! snow, wonderful snow, finally in the Tahoe area. Sugar Bowl tallied 24", Alpine Meadows garnered 28", and Squaw Valley grabbed 32" of fresh...Season still going strong in much of the country, apologies to those of you where this season was decidedly a non-starter...5" fresh on top of Steamboat and A-Basin Colorado this morning, and it looks like the SW Colorado resorts like Purgatory and Wolf Creek are about to be positively slammed...snowing nicely right now at the Arizona Snowbowl, here's a photo... ...and we expect this storm to deliver to quite a few of the western resorts...6" fresh on the ground at Snowbird UT today...in the east, Killington still 100% open, they're talking about staying open well into May...regret to report another fatality at Breckenridge, just a few days after a 22-year-old University of Colorado student met his doom on Peak 7. This time it was 46-year-old Krzysztof Kostelic of Rolling Meadows, IL who hit a tree on the Northstar intermediate run between Peaks 7 and 8. The Summit County Coroner said Mr. Kostelic may have had a medical issue that contributed to the accident...next week the NCAA Skiing Championships return to Lake Placid for the first time since 1982, St. Lawrence University will be the host school...speaking of higher education, the University of Michigan Fraternity melees at Boyne and Treetops back in January is now estimated at close to a half million dollars. Treetops has assessed the damages and costs at $430,000 against $25,000 paid by the fraternity, who says they won't pay any more. Sounds like the U of M prez Mark Schlissel should expect to be served some documents in the near future. Boyne had a lot less damage and agreed not to press criminal charges in light of the $25k they received...Amtrak reviving the famous Ski Train service for Denver to Winter Park in Mid March; original service shut down in 2009. It sold out in just ten hours, so they added a second day, and that sold out in just four hours! The 65 mile run speeds through 29 different tunnels in a 4,000' climb to the resort...calling for prayers and/or happy thoughts for 8-year-old Cameron Jones of Solon Springs, Wisconsin who tumbled 25 feet from a chairlift at Spirit Mountain near Duluth MN on Friday. The boy has several fractures and a lacerated liver, and his mother said he "would've lost his life or had a serious traumatic brain injury" if not for his helmet. Oddly enough there was another fall from the same lift earlier in the day, however no injuries in that incident.

2 March 2015 Catching up on FIS World Cup action, Ladies did Super G events yesterday and this morning in Bansko Bulgaria; today's event a catch-up for an earlier cancellation, and they ran a combined race also. Well the story was pretty much the same for all three events with Anna Fenninger winning three, Tina Maze runner up all three times. Only key difference was Sunday's third spot went to Swiss star Dominique Gisin while Lindsey Vonn finished third this morning, and Kathrin Zettel third in the combi. Vonn, for her part, was not happy with the conditions in Bansko. As it stands now, Maze's lead in the overall is just 44 points ahead of Fenninger. It may come down to the final GS in Meribel in two weeks...the men meanwhile were in Garmisch-Partenkirchen with a Giant Slalom yesterday, Marcel Hirscher took top spot followed by German technician Felix Neureuther. Oldie but apparently still goodie Benni Raich of Austria took third, with a disappointed Ted Ligety in fourth. Men's downhill a few days earlier was won by Hannes Reichelt. Also noteworthy was a 6th place finish for American Marco Sullivan. Concerns that the American men's speed program would fade away in the post-Bode Miller era seem to be lessening as a number of these guys appear to be stepping things up a bit.

26 February 2015 Great XC success story just in from Titcomb Mountain in Maine, $9,000 raised in a marathon nordic effort to light more of the trails there. Kudos to David Huish and friends for his 100k "Light It Up" fundraiser for the Nordic trails at Titcomb. Lights have been installed on Bog Loop trail and the area known at the stadium, paid in part by this event. However the effort was so successful, Titcomb will also be able to light three additional routes, which will be done over the summer...continuing the nordie good feelings, in Falun Sweden yesterday, Minnesota natives Jessie Diggins and Caitlin Gregg took silver and bronze in the 10k freestyle at the Nordic World Championships. Favorite Charlotte Kalla of Sweden won, and the Norwegians who were supposed to round out the podium missed by a mile on their choice of wax. The big deal is, these are the first medals for any American woman in long distance XC...snow continues to pile up in the Tetons, but the resort making news these days isn't Jackson Hole, it's the relatively modest town hill known as Snow King. Locally called "The King," it's a mid-sized ski area right in the middle of town, and a favorite destination for race training. Well the hubbub now is what can be done to make it pay its own way, and the proposals for ropes courses, alpine slides, waterparks and movie plexes are flying fast and furious. Naturally, a number of locals oppose these things -- and I imagine some of them with very good reason. Stay tuned...and I'm wrapping up the week with kudos to Seven Springs in Pennsy, working with the Wounded Warrior Patrol (not to be confused with Wounded Warrior Project) to host an all expense-paid ski trip for physically and mentally injured vets and their families. Army vet Shane Betts of Mount Holly Springs, PA shattered his foot when he stepped on a landmine in Afghanistan in 2010, and thanks to this effort he skied with his wife Ashley for the first time this past week. Way to go Shane, and thank you to Seven Springs!

25 February 2015 ...Mountain High California has reopened following some much needed snow over the weekend...News of a fire yesterday morning at Stratton Vermont's main base lodge. That building was closed yesterday; patrons were asked to use the Sun Lodge instead. Lifts operated as usual. I believe they intended to reopen the main lodge today...midwest park & pipe people enjoying a total park rebuild yesterday at Boston Mills Ohio...snowing virtually every day this week at Taos NM; they're serving up the goods for the powder hounds...15" fresh at Monarch in Colorado...big winner in the latest snow storms is Wolf Creek CO, tallying just under three feet on most of the area. Purgatory grabbed 28" from the string of storms...photo of the day courtesy Lutsen MN where conditions are fabulous, all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average... ...Hunter Mountain has announced April 12 as tentative closing date, that gives New Yorkers 47 more days of lift-served skiing this season...22-year-old University of Colorado senior died Monday at Breckenridge Resort. California native Jacob Koltun said to be skiing without a helmet and had some sort of accident on Peak 7...and third death at or near Aspen this season, 64-year-old John Gancsos, skiing out of bounds in the Castle Creek Valley Monday when he was swept up in an avalanche. Crews located his body an hour later, but were unable to reach it until yesterday. Recovery effort took about three hours according to Mountain Rescue Aspen...more from Colorado; Pitkin County resident Larry Jordan has filed suit against Aspen resident Nick Glavas in the aftermath of a Dec 7 collision on the Little Nell run on Aspen Mountain. The suit alleges Glavas was skiing recklessly and violated the Colorado Skier Safety Act requiring him to "maintain control at all times" and [responsibility of] "the person skiing downhill to avoid collisions with any persons or objects below him." Glavas is a SkiCo employee who was off duty at the time...Jessica L. Greene of Ashland NY was arrested for stealing from Windham Resort where she was employed. Felony charges against Greene include forgery, computer tampering, computer trespass and grand larceny, as well as the misdemeanors of falsifying business records and scheme to defraud...the Vermont Attorney General has stated that The Hermitage Club, which operates former Haystack Ski Resort has committed a number of permit violations, including altering a dam, disturbing a significant wetland without approval, and starting construction of a wind turbine on top of the mountain. All total the state is charging The Hermitage Club with 15 counts of land use violations. Snooping around a bit, it appears that some of this may be legit and some may be a bit of a stretch....meanwhile, a mile up the road, Mount Snow seems to have everything in place to begin construction on their new snowmaking lake. I say that, but the layers of bureaucracy are such a stranglehold I imagine they still have some state entity to satisfy and they may not even know it. On the surface it seems that Mount Snow is playing by the rules while their upscale neighbor seems to prefer the bull-in-china-shop approach to permitting, at least according to the state.

23 February 2015 If you knew that Friday's mystery photo was the Pally face at A-Basin, give yourself a gold star...speaking of Colorado, they finally received Colorado conditions this weekend, a foot of fresh yesterday at Steamboat, another 8" overnight...World Cup this weekend, ladies in Maribor where Anna Fenninger won the GS, Mikaela Shiffrin won the slalom. Tina Maze DNFd both events, which gave Fenninger a break and she's within 84 points on the overall. Men were in Saalbach and the Austrians ruled the roost; DH saw Austrians Matthias Mayer, Max Franz and Hannes Reichelt finish 1-2-3. Mayer repeated yesterday with a win in Super G, followed by Frenchman Adrien Theaux and Norway's Kjetil Jansrud...Stratton VT grabbed 8" of fresh yesterday...Sergio Bonaldi of Italy and Holly Brooks of Alaska won the 42nd running of the American Birkebeiner this weekend, that's Brooks' second Birkie...a couple months back I reported plans for an indoor ski slope in Grand Prairie, TX to be called The Grand Alps Resort & Hard Rock Hotel, well it's now on hold....more news tomorrow...

20 February 2015 Regular correspondent Arthur Sexauer reminded me that the Birkie is upon us! The Birkie, if you aren't aware of it, is the annual Nordie lovefest in Hayward, WI officially known as the Swix American Birkebeiner. The four day extravaganza kicked off yesterday with the Elite Sprints and continues today with the Junior Birkie; the showcase Swix Birkie 50k and adaptive events are scheduled for tomorrow. Other events include the Giant Birkie, in which teams of six racers strap into a single pair of 25' long skis, not to mention the Barkie Birkie, which is skijoring via dog power. Hey if nothing else, those nordies know how to have fun! Today is also the scheduled day for the Barnebirkie, which looks like this... ...you take a look at that photo, and then just try and tell me it failed to elevate your spirits...even if you're in the Pacific NW, where things pretty much suck, that photo will give you reason to feel good about winter sports...so now that you're smiling, a little, I'm pleased to report that it's snowing here and there in parts of the PNW this morning, Anthony Lakes reports a half an inch and counting...and not bad at Mt. Bachelor, where the piste on the Beverly Hills route looks stunning this morning for all you groomed cruiser fans -- it's at least 12 groomers wide today...and it will be cold in the midwest for the Birkie; Granite Peak WI on the alpine skiing side of the world woke this morning, and every morning this week, with plenty of snow and negative temps to keep that snow well preserved. Also the lack of people skiing or boarding is great for the snow, but terrible for the bottom line...-9 degrees F this morning at the base of Elk Mountain in Pennsy...-12 f on the summit of Wintergreen VA...Mens FIS World Cup tour in Saalbach this weekend, downhill training runs in progress...Coloradoans looking for snow this weekend, Loveland forecasters expecting it to hit tonight. Loveland has a Gilson boards demo going on today through Sunday...Snowbird among the Utah resorts lined up for some snow this weekend...Swain NY jumping on the season pass bandwagon, buy it now, good for next season...even Killington VT gets creative with the passes, they're offering a $179 spring pass that begins March 14 but you gotta buy it before the end of this month. It's also good at Pico for the last couple weeks of March. for what it's worth both K-Mart and Pico are 100% open...wayward Massachusetts teen at Attitash NH yesterday, apparently off the Far Out trail at Bear Peak, found safe and sound but probably a bit chilled at 9:30 last night...curious incident at Sugarloaf ME Wednesday, Nova Scotia resident Kyle Henderson, 20, apparently was injured on the Boomauger trail, where he was found by another skier. Henderson didn't appear to hit anything; police are still unsure what happened. He was airlifted and remains in critical condition at Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston, and our thoughts and prayers are for a rapid recovery...elsewhere in New England, Wachusett MA reporting the best conditions on record -- and the worst vacation week attendance in recent memory -- revenues at Wa Wa are down 40% from the usual vacation levels, and 17% overall this season...exactly the opposite problem in Southern California: Mountain High near Wrightwood closed until they get new snow. Bear Mountain and Snow Summit at Big Bear Lake are still open but terrain is limited. Mount Baldy north of Upland, is closed for lack of snow but the weather is so pleasant and they're getting so many visitors hiking and sightseeing, they run the lift on weekends with service to their Top of the Notch restaurant...demo day tomorrow at underrated Plattekill in New York State; Homewood boards, Volkl skis and Tubbs snowshoes on the menu....and last but not least, here's the mystery ski area today, hint is: very well known trail name, check out the skiers, they are nicely "spaced", and it is a lot steeper than this photo would lead you to believe...

...answer Monday...late word from Washington State, ghastly trend continues, Leavenworth Winter Sports Club has closed all of its Nordic and Alpine ski areas because lack of snow. A quick check of their webcams reveals a scene more like mid-April than what it should be mid-February...Xero Gravity Action Sports just announced plans for an extreme sport mega-resort in Central Florida's Osceola County, said to include a 14 story outdoor snowplex slope.

19 February 2015 Like the Beatles in 1964, the hits keep coming in the northeast...Sunday River in Maine, Loon NH both reporting 7" of fresh today...8" new at Attitash while sister area Wildcat up in Pinkham Notch has at least a foot of fresh powder today...across the country it's still grim in most of California but sliiightly better news; Homewood Resort in Tahoe has reopened with limited terrain serviced by the Old Homewood Express; up- and downloading on the Madden Triple. The North Lodge Happy Platter lift and Magic Carpet are serving the only beginner terrain available right now; lessons and ski school programs all available...Boreal running a banked slalom event this weekend, $25 entry fee. Bay Area skiers are routinely spoiled by the deep snows, this is the time they have to get in touch with their Eastern counterparts, who in most years get on the slopes rain or shine, ice or melting slush, whatever it takes. This season the tables have turned...Alpine World Championships last week, this week the 2015 Nordic World Ski Championships are underway in Falun, Sweden...pinheads going to Bromley VT this weekend for the 30th Annual Kare Andersen Telemark Festival on Sunday...Pat's Peak NH hosting a Childhood Cancer Lifeline fundraiser Saturday and Sunday, to help families of children with cancer. Pat's is a highly regarded mid-sized hill with a great family atmosphere.

18 February 2015 Yesterday mentioned recent Colorado conditions at Caberfae in Michigan, just a heads-up they have a terrific date night deal this coming Friday Feb 20, two lift tickets for $20, and if needed, two rentals for $20. I don't often tout deals, they have to be good ones...Maine ski areas bracing for more snow. It's mostly good, only negative is when the customers can't get to the hill. Big Rock looking at 8-10", same at central areas like Titcomb and Sugarloaf. Camden Snow Bowl on the coast is in the eye of the crosshairs; 10-14" possible...terrible news out of Maine as well, 49-year-old Adam Tsapsis killed while kite skiing on Crystal Lake in the community of Harrison. That's near Bridgton, which you might know as the location of Shawnee Peak. Tsapsis was slowing near his home when he was caught by an unexpected gust, and propelled over a stone wall and slammed into a shed...recalling February 18th one of the most exciting Daytona 500s ever, although it ended up being the worst. Permit me a little tribute here... ...thanks for the memories...and one more tragedy, a real heartbreaker. 30-year-old Angela Marie Erale, of El Paso TX, was skiing with her fiance Kevin Wellendorf, 36, when she hit a tree and died of apparent head injuries at Ski Santa Fe on Valentine's Day. Erale was skiing on the Alpine route (a blue) off the Millenium chair and is believed to have died on impact. Erale and Wellendorf were a military couple, stationed at Ft. Bliss. Perhaps saddest of all, Mr. Wellendorf stated that he saw the collision impending and yelled at Erale to "just let herself fall"...another rescue at Killington VT yesterday, this time Benjamin Levine, age 27, of Pittsburgh, PA guided down to Mendon...all's well that ends well: 28-year-old James Garner (not related) of Sydney, Australia took his skis off, ducked a rope, passed a red warning sign, and stepped onto an out-of-bounds cornice near the top of the Blackfoot lift at Grand Targhee WY last week to take a photograph. The cornice collapsed and triggered an avalanche, which carried Mr. Garner 100' down a chute to the edge of a cliff, which he promptly flew over and fell 300' -- complete free fall -- to the mountainside below. Garner landed in deep snow and was unharmed (that's not a misprint) but was transported to a hospital for observation. A Sheriff's Deputy issued him a citation for trespassing in a closed area. Hospital report said "Patient had no critical injuries on preliminary examination." No word on the condition of the camera...tough news continues in the Sierras; Squaw Valley has cancelled the World Cup skicross and boardercross competition scheduled for early March, not enough snow to build the banked turns and jumps required for the event...First Lady Michelle Obama skiing with daughters in Aspen this week, reportedly staying in the Tiehack home of a SkiCo bigwig. The President, meanwhile, was golfing? What's up with that...Forbes magazine reports that reopened Southern Utah area Eagle Point is doing a fairly brisk business offering corporate groups and such a one day/one night takeover of the entire resort -- lifts, trails, plus all the available condo lodging -- up to 200 people for $10,000. The concept is said to be very attractive to convention groups headed for Vegas, as the ski resort takeover offers a reasonably priced alternative to hosting a blow-out party for the same number of bodies...China Peak CA has suspended operations for lack of snow...add Summit At Snoqualmie near Seattle to the closed-for-lack-of-snow list...head southeast and the picture is infinitely brighter, despite ups-and-downs in Colorado and Utah: Lodgekeepers at 19 ski resorts in six Western U.S. states including Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Nevada -- as well as California and Oregon -- are reporting occupancy up 8.7 percent, revenues up 14 percent over last season through the end of January, according to DestiMetrics, a Denver-based resort consulting firm...never wear a scarf when skiing. 12-year-old Samuel Root, of Lafayette, IN was skiing with his boy scout troop when his scarf got stuck in a tow rope Saturday at Bittersweet MI. Hospital officials induced coma and put the boy on a ventilator, he survived and was taken off Sunday. Family needs help with the medical bills; please click here for their GoFundMe page...and more fresh snow at Paoli Peaks IN, having one of their best seasons in recent memory.

17 February 2015 Great ski conditions in the north and southeast, but nasty nasty temps....picture has brightened a bit in the Pacific NW but still not enough to really turn things around... Crazy deals starting on passes and whatnot, Hunter NY has a deal $239 gets you a pass for the balance of the season...even better than that is Snowshoe WV, it's $229 or something for next years pass if you buy in the next few days. First group got passes for as low as $209, but it resulted in such a rush that it blew out their web server...See if you can follow this: Wintergreen VA just sold by Mr. James C. Justice to EPR Group, which is going to lease it to Pacific Group Resorts. Pacific Group Resorts is the dynamic duo of Vern Greco and Doug Anderson, Greco formerly Powdr Corp. and notably, Park City Mountain Resort during the Salt Lake Olympics, also formerly of Durango Mountain Resort. Anderson might best be known for his tenure at United Park City Mines and for building the Empire Pass complex at Deer Valley. This is the group's third resort, the others being Wisp MD and Ragged Mountain NH. Back to the money for this, which is EPR group out of Kansas City. They own your local movie theatre, probably your local charter school, and about a bazillion other things, including Geyser Peak Vineyard and the observation deck at the Hancock Tower in Chicago. The other Pacific Group property that EPR owns is Wisp -- they don't own Ragged. As far as I can tell, the only ski resort that EPR group owns and operates themselves is Camelback PA, and that is through some complicated lease thing I certainly don't understand. EPR also owns Mad River Mountain in Ohio, and Crotched Mountain in NH. They lease those to Peak Resorts out of Missouri, and they hold the mortgages for other key Peak Resorts, including Mount Snow VT and Attitash NH. Back to Pacific Group. I can't imagine Wintergreen was a fire sale like the other two, perhaps Mr. Justice was feeling the pinch in the coal business. I wouldn't be surprised if he retains some interest somewhere somehow at Wintergreen. I'd be more surprised if he didn't retain an interest in something, as the golf course is very near and dear to him. Regardless, it will be business as usual for the time being, as a quick look at Wintergreen's webcam reveals some decent crowds in the afternoon shadows... ...moving on, FIS World Cup wrapped up this weekend in Beaver Creek, the big news comes in threes: Ligety and Shiffrin won, Hirscher did NOT win the slalom! France's Jean Baptiste Grange grabbed the gold after Hirscher straddled a gate. Germans Fritz Dopfer and Felix Neureuther were second and third respectively. Back to the others; Ted Ligety won GS gold and Mikaela Shiffrin SL gold. In the overall, Tina Maze now has 184 points on Anna Fenninger, and Hirscher has almost 200 points on Kjetil Jansrud. Kudos to Vail Corp. and the local volunteers who put this event on; live spectator total over the entire event was more than 125,000...and the weather turned on the final day, probably had a lot to do with Hirscher's mishap, but much needed snow falling off and on since. Overnight total at Steamboat about 3", same numbers down at Arapahoe Basin...also new snow in much of the heartland, Paoli Peaks Indiana grabbed a couple inches...powder skiing as if it were Colorado, but no it was just Caberfae Michigan. Correct that, I think they had better conditions than Colorado this weekend...fresh snow at Taos yesterday, here's a plug for their Breast Cancer Awareness Day coming up Saturday Feb 21st with a K2 Bumps Challenge on Al's Run -- skis and boards! #bumpsforlumps

12 February 2015 Throwback Thursday today. But before we get to that, catch up on business. Lincoln's Birthday -- this is the day when resorts used to accept flawless recitation of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address as payment in full for a lift ticket. The only one I'm aware of that still does it is Mountain Creek NJ. There have been a lot of presidential speeches over the years, a lot of good ones, but Lincoln's two-minute oration remains the best. Oddly enough, historians aren't quite sure of the exact wording, as Lincoln wrote down five different versions. But if you're headed to Mountain Creek, best bet is to recite the "Bliss" version...so for today's photo, here's Pennsy's Ski Roundtop, a fantastic banana belt area just north of the Mason-Dixon Line and just a stone's throw from Gettysburg... ...yesterday's mystery photo (which you can see below) was captured at Monarch Pass, Colorado and the area visible in the distance is Monarch Ski Resort, which is the first one you hit if you're driving north from Texas next month...and now we move on to Throwback Thursday...a company in Vermont is re-introducing The Snurfer, which might be unfamiliar to anyone under the age of 50 (yes I had one). It was the precurser to the snowboard, simply a wide wooden plank that you stood on, had a rope attached to the front that sort of assisted steering. The new offering is called the Snurfer by Vew-Do, and you can read all about it here. Anyway it's pretty cool and we certainly need more of this cheap, backyard stuff to get kids off the couch. Winter fun doesn't have to include condo reservations and pricey lift tickets...speaking of pricey lift tickets, Stratton has 52" of snow thus far in February...move south to Pennsy and modest Shawnee has tallied 30" since the beginning of the month; they're 100% open...10" new snow at Lutsen in Minnesota...but I digress....throwback...Black Mountain of Maine, the big little area that could, is scheduling a tasting with Allagash Brewery as part of their "Winter Fun Day" on March 7. And at the prices they charge up in Rumford, you can dispense with the backyard stuff and go straight to the mountain. Well, keep the backyard stuff too. But, as an example, lift tickets this Saturday or Sunday, holiday weekend, are $25 and you get 1,000' of vertical, two chairs, and zero liftlines for that....not in Maine? Look around, you'll find a throwback...How about Cochran's in Vermont? For about $20 you get a ticket AND a meal, and you get to ski and board with some of the coolest, friendliest, nicest kids on the planet. Too far north? Go for Living Memorial in Brattleboro, different kids, same attitude...and another Vermont throwback area, sizable Magic Mountain in Londenderry, has a great deal for the earn-your-turns crowd. Skin or otherwise slog your way up the mountain, get a voucher good for one free same day ride on the chairlift. Hmm, carry the one, add the, uh, hey that's two runs down for one hike up! As they say, magic...New York? Head for the maniacally fast rope tow called Dynamite Hill in Chestertown, or slightly longer slope a few minutes north at the handle tow in Schroon Lake. They're both free, so no excuses...Michigan? How about small but mighty Ski Brule, some of the best conditions you'll find anywhere, and kids under age 10 ski free, every day. Adults ski any night from 4:30 - 8:30 for ten (10) dollars...same price for a night ticket at Colorado's Howelsen Hill, which might be in the shadow of Steamboat but it serves up some excellent terrain, and is also the training ground for many Olympians...Montana has a great little area up in Havre called Bear Paw, unfortunately they aren't open for lack of snow right now. When they are, it's 900' vertical of awesomeness, with a top ticket price of $25...will be back on Tuesday.

11 February 2015 Ghastly weather continues in the Pac NW, Mt. Spokane has suspended operations for the time being, first time they've had to do this since 2005. Spokane isn't giving up on the season just yet; they're moving around the snow they do have in an attempt to open some sort of terrain park. Look for a couple more in the region to bang it up after this weekend...Utah's newest area, Cherry Peak, just announced they will not open this season as hoped, due to unexpected delays in lift and lodge construction. They do plan to open next season...organizers in Park City have announced that the Round Valley Roundup nordic race has been cancelled due to spiking temps and no snow...FIS World Cup saw Austria win the team competition yesterday, surprise silver medal for Team Canada, totally unexpected...other news from the World Championships in Beaver Creek, apparently 35-year-old Sarah Schleper, retired from the US Team in 2011, is back on the snow, racing for Team Mexico...nice little pocket of snow this morning in the southwest, Taos has a few much appreciated inches of fresh...new snow also in parts of Wisconsin...and not that they need any, Jackson Hole got half a foot yesterday...kind of a quiet newsday, so here's a mystery photo for your viewing pleasure... ...yes, it's a highway cam of a mountain pass, ski area visible in the distance shares the name. Answer tomorrow...news from Killington, VT, 45-year-old Christopher Jablonski of Grafton, Massachusetts and his 14-year-old son went off piste and promptly got lost yesterday afternoon, they were located and guided out safely...tough situation for Forest Lake Area (Minnesota) High School alpine ski team, their van was involved in a fatal crash last week in Cloquet. No team members hurt -- the fatality was in the other vehicle -- but it's still a traumatic deal. Team has announced they will compete in the state championships tomorrow at Giants Ridge...and we'll end with what is finally some good news for Eaglecrest Ski Area in Alaska; finally enough snow and they'll be opening this weekend.

10 February 2015 And so there's a rare bright spot in the Pacific NW season, Mt Bachelor grabbed a few inches of fresh and locals are making the most of it...and another big big bright spot in Oregon, Mt. Ashland reopened last week after a snow storm. Ashland did sputter open for a bit in December, then had a meltdown. But even so this is all good news, as the Crater Lake area ski slopes completely failed to open last season for lack of snow...on to better news, more snow has paralyzed parts of New England but the ski areas are in great shape, 22" in two days at Mt. Snow VT and they're now added to the 100% open gang...in the Catskills Belleayre has all but one trail open, and that one is a disused novice connector thing. They've got the hard core route through Cathedral Glen open, which is something you seldom see. Belleayre also wins our Nordie love pin for today, they've got 100% of their cross country terrain open and as usual it's free for all XC skiers...in NH Attitash has everything open except the lower half of Ptarmigan and Tim's Trauma, and I suspect that will change by the weekend...in Michigan it's snowing every day at Mt Bohemia, they've got 92 runs open and conditions are nothing less than incredible...FIS World Cup news from the World Championships at Beaver Creek no surprise that Tina Maze won the womens combined event yesterday. Today is the Nations Team event, which includes a side-by-side event with a built in jump. If you've never seen it, looks like this... ...the mainstream ski racing press sort of poo-poohs this as a second rate event, which I suppose it is, but the only thing missing really is individual World Cup points and some of the speed event skiers, who have already shipped out to rest up/prepare for the rest of the season. Other than that the rosters are chock full of Olympic and World Champions and medal winners, past greats, and a few up-and-comers. I happen to think it's a cool event. Team USA will be represented by Julia Mancuso, Paula Moltzan, MIkaela Shiffrin, Will Brandenburg, David Chodounsky, and Ted Ligety...mega resort operator Intrawest reporting that their annual overall operating loss was down to $31.1 million last season. Now that sounds as if they were bleeding like a stuck pig, but no, it's apparently bright news considering they lost $122.2 million the year before. Intrawest also reports skier visits overall were up 2.2% last season, and get this, if you discount their Blue Mountain Ontario operation, skier visits were up over 15% last season. Intrawest operates Steamboat and Winter Park in Colorado, Mammoth Mountain California, Snowshoe Mountain in West Virginia, Stratton in Vermont and Tremblant and the aforementioned Blue Mountain in Canada....other ski business news, sort of an up-and-down season in Idaho; "ups" include Brundage and Sun Valley, both enjoying decent conditions and crowds. "Downs" include Bogus Basin and Soldier Mountain, both plagued by rain this past weekend...the planned multi-million dollar expansion at Granite Peak, Wisconsin's largest ski area, is getting some serious pushback from environmentalists. I'm not taking either side until I check this out. Usually the developers propose complete rape and pillage of the land, so the greenies return the salvo that every blade of grass must be held in sacred trust. Then it goes back and forth a bit, and they generally settle on something sensible and agreeable to all concerned...and finally, kudos to Maine companies Franklin Savings Bank and Western Mountain Financial Services, they are sponsoring two free ski & snowboard events in February, according to a news release from Franklin Savings. First is Friday February 20th, free skiing at Titcomb Mountain in Farmington. Second event is Friday February 27th at Black Mountain of Maine in Rumford.

9 February 2015 Finally snow in the Tahoe area, although Homewood remains closed...Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows grabbed 5" of fresh overnight. Now in a normal season that would be considered a mere dusting, but this year it's cause for celebration...snowing as I type this at Boreal....still an abundance of riches in the northeast; since yesterday Mount Snow received 17" and still counting...midwest skiers and snowboarders may have recognized the Mystery Image on Friday as Caberfae Resort in Michigan...so much snow in the northeast, New York's Plattekill open today, their first non-holiday Monday in recent memory...Eastern Pennsylvania skiers will do well to follow this link for a $55 card valid for full day lift tix at six different ski areas, namely Alpine Mountain, Blue Mountain, Camelback, Jack Frost/Big Boulder, Shawnee and Ski Big Bear in Masthope (not to be confused with the Big Bear in Southern California)...FIS World Cup news, World Championships in full swing and some big surprises this weekend. First off, Ladies Downhill had Slovenia's Tina Maze showing form she was famous for back in 2013, and I think she may be unstoppable at this point. Maze was followed by Austrian Anna Fenninger and Swiss Lara Gut, with Lindsey Vonn settling for fifth. Mens Downhill had Swiss speedsters Patrick Kueng first, Beat Feuz third, bookending a surprising Travis Ganong from the USA in second. Likable Steven Nyman finished fourth. After Ganong grabbed silver, it seemed hard to imagine a bigger surprise, but it happened yesterday when technician Marcel Hirscher made a respectable 30th place in the downill half of the Combined, then backed that up with a blistering slalom and grabbed the top spot. Ted Ligety was probably the favorite, but did not have his typical middle-of-pack downhill and then had issues at one of the slalom gates and settled for third place. Norway's Kjetil Jansrud had a hamfisted slalom run, but his downhill was enough to put him in second. The real surprise to me was seeing Hirscher on the downhill course, and although 3 seconds is an eternity in downhill, it shows that he is capable of being an all-around skier. Regular readers know that I just don't give technicians the same credit that I do the speedsters. Speaking of all-around skiers, by the time you read this it's quite likely that Tina Maze will win today's Ladies Combined. It's no guarantee, but do not bet against her right now....8" fresh snow overnight at Attitash NH...patrollers have opened up the woods at Okemo VT...correction to last week's report that Kachina Peak is open at Taos; I suppose there may be people skiing it but the chair will not run until they get more snow...something's happening at shuttered NJ ski area Hidden Valley; local official says it's been sold and they're going to renovate lodge and lifts...sad to report that 27-year-old woman Seleste Fenoff of St. Johnsbury VT died after crashing into a tree at Q-Burke Resort (used to be called Burke Mountain) on Friday...and no word yet on the condition of a 20-something year old man who suffered a serious head injury on the 3-D (intermediate) trail at Sunday River Maine on Saturday morning. A LifeFlight helicopter transported the injured man to Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston...currently shuttered Denton Hill near Coudersport PA, aka middle of nowhere, may rise out of the ashes as a coalition of local businesses and officials are asking the commonwealth to help the area reopen...and back to that drought in California and the Pac NW, it seems that right now there's little hope for salvaging this season, live image from last weekend at Willamette Pass in Oregon... ...ouch...high temps continue in Utah, but not so bad in the higher parts. Snowbird tweeting that storm clouds are on the horizon, and they mean that in a good way...in Colorado the sunshine is great, and with temps today going only into the upper 30s at Arapahoe Basing for example, shouldn't be too bad...looking at the south, conditions about what they should be this time of year; Wintergreen VA offering excellent conditions as banana belt skiing goes...same deal in Missouri; Hidden Valley (not to be confused with the one reported above, in NJ) has all of its terrain open. No snow in the surrounding area, but plenty on the mountain....looking at the upper midwest, Lutsen also right where they should be this time of year; 98% of terrain is open, it snows a bit every few days, and the thermometer struggles to reach 20 degrees F...and if you go as far as you dare in the Southwest, Mt Lemmon down in Tucson it's also business as usual; they're waiting for snow so they can reopen.

6 February 2015 More snow in New England, more on the way. Add Okemo VT to the 100% open list; they've got so much going on they're spinning the Sachem chair today, which is something you seldom see but for Saturdays and holidays...continue to moan the blues in the Pac NW, even Anthony Lakes is getting some rain today, ugh...You probably know that Tahoe's Heavenly overlaps the border of California and Nevada. Did you know that the east also has an area you can ski from state to state? It happens to be the very underrated Catamount, which straddles the New York/Massachusetts line south of Albany. And tomorrow happens to be Catamount's 75th anniversary -- we're wishing them many more...new bit of fun here, see if you can guess where this is, USA... ...we'll have the answer Monday. I'll serve up one of these "guess where you are" photos at least once a week, maybe more. Guess correctly, you get a mark of merit. For every three marks of merit, you get a gold star. Save up three gold stars, you earn an extra special mark of merit. It's exactly like Green Stamps but without the prizes...Bolton Valley VT offering free XC passes for the nordies tomorrow...Loveland Colorado jumping on the uphill access pass bandwagon; all of you freeheelers need to check in and get a free pass before you put the skins on...Northern New York's Titus Mountain has more snow than they know what to do with, and it's snowing as I type this...amazing action in Beaver Creek yesterday with the Men's Super G World Championship, big news of course is Bode Miller crashed out and slashed his leg rather badly. Then Kjetil Jansrud shoulder blocked a gate, recovered, but was shaken and hurt and couldn't overcome the accident. These smash ups overshadowed the incredible second place showing of Canadian Dustin Cook, his first-ever podium finish. Austria's Hannes Reichelt was the winner, with Frenchman Adrien Theaux in third. Check that, this was Cook's first-ever top ten in World Cup competition. Here's a photo from yesterday's podium, Cook is on the left... ...and related news, retired Norwegian greats Kjetil Andre Aamodt and Lasse Kjus have been named the 2015 Legends of Honor recipients and will be inducted into the International Ski Racing Hall of Fame. The ceremony is scheduled for February 11 during the World Championships...put Jiminy Peak MA on the roster of 100% open...if you're wondering why I'm doing this, it's because most years the list of 100% open in the northeast is very, very short...kudos to Powder Mountain Utah's Pat Bish, he's honored by radio station KRCL as Liftie of the Week...Ladies Downhill underway at Beaver Creek as I type this, it would be nice to see Lindsey lay down the law and grab the gold. I am afraid that the crash yesterday spells the end for Bode Miller; we'll have to wait and see.

5 February 2015 Snow yesterday in Colorado, giving a good shot in the arm to a lot of resorts. Steamboat grabbed 6", A-Basin got 11". As reported yesterday, they've got just about everything open but the East Wall. A quick snapshot from the top of Lenawee tells the story... ...the rich continue to get richer in the northeast; Loon grabbed 5" fresh yesterday, 3" already this morning, and 4" more expected tonight...in New York Plattekill will open for the weekend tomorrow with 100% of terrain and everything in between. It's like a Mad River Glen or Mount Bohemia type place, except Pattekill faithful often tack up handmade signs pointing to some hairy routes through the woods...Ski Bums in Burlington VT can take advantage of free bus rides to Bolton Valley on Saturdays and Sundays. If you've ever driven up that road you know this is an attractive option...SnoCountry.com reporting that the ski manufacturers might be taking a step back, re-introducing narrower waist models designed for frontside skiing. Those 104mm waists may be great in Vail's China Bowl but they positively suck on Camelback's crowded Pocono pavement. Maybe it's finally dawning on the ski industry: More people ski on the frontside. Right now a lot of intermediate frontside skiers are on 85 mm underfoot, and while that may work at Copper, I just don't think it's ideal at Cannon. Now again, I'm talking average intermediate, frontside skiers. These are the people who pay the bills -- they don't usually get ticket deals and they don't bring sandwiches and coolers. They rent condos and pay for group lessons. The ski industry needs these people, and they ought to do more to cater to them. I wouldn't be surprised if an updated version of the Salomon BBR came back, or perhaps a narrower Cham from Dynastar. As long as nobody tries to reintroduce those ghastly "system" skis with integrated bindings...new snow overnight in the lower midwest, Paoli Peaks got a nice fresh coat...in the Tetons, Jackson Hole dropped the rope on Corbets...still singing the blues in California, even places that have snow are suffering from the surrounding gloom; Boreal offering a limited number of $20 tickets tomorrow, trying to get something going...Squaw Valley faithful are really bellyaching about the conditions, particularly after a disappointing season last year. I hate to go back to those frontside skiers again, but those that have been to Squaw are all saying that conditions are wonderful on the piste, and they're having a great time. The expert KT-22 huckers, meanwhile, are staying home. Me thinks some skiers are just a bit spoiled...men's Super G rescheduled for today at the FIS World Championships in Beaver Creek; weather is supposed to be more cooperative...other Colorado news, Grand Junction area Powderhorn Resort just announced plans for $5 million in upgrades, which includes a new high speed quad to replace the antiquated fixed grip out of the base area. It's a pretty serious announcement, considering the current owners paid just $1.4 million for Powderhorn three years ago...and in Telluride, ski patrollers are deciding whether to unionize with the Communications Workers of America. All full-time and regular part-time ski patrollers, dispatchers and snowmobilers employed by Telluride Ski Resort are eligible to vote. No other Telluride employees, managers and supervisors will be eligible. The National Labor Relations Board in Denver will collect ballots and count them on Feb. 26...more about those sweetheart land leases in Vermont: last week State Senator Tim Ashe, D-Chittenden, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, sent letters on Senate letterhead to Bromley, Okemo, Killington, Stowe, Smugglers Notch, Q-Burke and Jay Peak resorts, asking them to please renegotiate their leases or else there could be tax implications. Ashe signed each letter as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. Parker Riehle, president of the Vermont Ski Areas Association, says they are working on a response...15" of new snow at Brundage Mountain in ID since the weekend...19-year-old American student safe and sound after being stuck for two days in deep snow after going off piste at Les Diablerets in the Swiss Alps.

4 February 2015 I guess we might as well get the bad news out of the way first, drought and weather in the Sierras is so bad right now even Homewood is shuttered on the shores of Lake Tahoe. Over the ridge Sierra-at-Tahoe Resort has snow, they're open, and the temperature is well into the 50s...remember a couple years ago they had to dig out the chairlifts...meanwhile the bigger resorts in the northeast are getting even more snow, snow at Sunday River and Sugarloaf off and on today. The 'Loaf has over 1,000 acres open...remember 2012 they had more rain than snow...northeasterners, enjoy it while you can. northwesterners, next season will be better...putting the best face on it all is Mt. Bachelor, gearing up for their Vert Fest this coming weekend...great action to kick off the FIS World Championships in Beaver Creek Colorado yesterday, ladies doing a Super G on the Raptor course. It went Anna Fenninger, Tina Maze, Lindsey Vonn, with just .15 separating the trio. Fenninger edged Maze by just 3/100ths of a second, which is simply fantastic. Vonn had something of a sluggish start up high -- had she been even slightly better on that section she would've won. Men were lined up for their Super G today, but poor weather nixed the race. Some old names are on the docket, names like Bode Miller and Aksel Lund Svindall and Manny Osborne-Paradis. And I'm wondering if they aren't just using this Super G as a tune-up for the marquee downhill event. Regardless, I have a feeling that Kjetil Jansrud will be tough to beat in both speed events, particularly if they are forced again to lower the start...Taos has dropped the ropes on Kachina Peak...Jackson Hole tallied two feet from their latest storm, pick one of the three Teton areas and that's your best spot in the country right now...New Hampshire snowing again today at Attitash they've got untracked pow in the tree sections...10" in the western NY skiing hub of Ellicottville, that's home to Holiday Valley and Holimont...looking to Ohio, small but mighty Snow Trails checking in with 100% lifts running, trails and terrain parks all open...Arizona Snow Bowl getting snow now and then, they're about 75% open, looks like this... ...snowing today at Arapahoe Basin, Basin regulars still waiting for the East Wall to get enough cover...SAM Magazine reports that a National Ski Areas Association study on injuries shows that overall injuries are down, helmet use has reduced the rate of head injuries, and terrain parks haven't caused any noticeable uptick in the number of injuries. For reference, the rate of skiing incidents was 3.1 per thousand visits in 1980, down to 2.5 per thousand visits in 2010...so the One Wasatch thing in Utah is getting some pushback on a variety of fronts...and Treetops Resort in Michigan got a check for $25,000 from the fraternity that went nuts and ransacked their lodging. At least it's a start...renovation project for Pennsy's shuttered Laurel Mountain is expected to go out to bid in the next couple weeks, includes plans for a new lift, upgraded snowmaking, and improved electrical system. It also calls for one existing lift to be decommissioned. The commonwealth estimates the whole shooting match at 5.2 million...and finally, a man in Warren, Michigan was arrested yesterday for skitching, which is skiing while hanging on to the back of a moving vehicle. We've all done it, come on. Unfortunately this gentleman was caught on camera by a local news station, and I guess one thing led to another and he wound up in the pokey.

3 February 2015 Well the season just got a big shot in the arm in the northeast, and a rising tide better start lifting more boats, because if we look across the map to the northwest corner it's quite bleak at this point. Cooper Spur and Mt Hood Ski Bowl both report in with "waiting for more snow" and they aren't alone...well there must be some good juju in New England, besides the aforementioned storm we get news from New England Ski Industry that long lost Mt Eustis in Littleton NH will be reopening this weekend, February 7th, for the first time since the 1970s...and north of that in Lancaster NH Mt Prospect has overcome insurance woes and will be offering skiing this season...and last but not least in good news out of the chilly northeast, Camden Snow Bowl in Maine got their new triple chair up and running this past weekend...and now a word about the recent spate of storms, around the region, Black Mountain of Maine operating all trails, in the trees, and double-wide tracks for the nordies; life is good...Titus NY got 8" of fluffy fluff and has great conditions right now...Plattekill NY had one of their rare midweek openings this morning, as did Magic Mountain in Vermont...y'all know how a lot of areas try to sell passes for the next season in March or April, with the enticement that you can use it to ski the balance of this season. Seems Wild Mountain MN is putting a different spin on this; they're offering next season now, and for an extra $50 you can use it this season immediately...Pennsy's revitalized Montage Mountain reporting 9" of fresh snow, they're open side to side...Hunter Mountain NY claiming 16" yesterday, I believe it. Neighboring Windham had about the same, they've got every trail open...add Vermont's Killington to the 100% open club...and we get word from upstate New York that Big Tupper, an old-line Adirondack area, opened this weekend for the first time in recent memory...FIS World Championships regular competition underway this morning at Beaver Creek; Tina Maze just edged Lindsey Vonn for the top spot in the super G but still some strong competitors to follow, complete report tomorrow. #skibumusa

26 January 2015 Big time storm and cold heading for the northeast, and not a moment too soon. Lot of major areas have been relying on the manmade. Picture has been somewhat bleak at Whiteface NY, although conditions decent, they still don't have all their terrain open and only an inch of snow in the woods. Lake Placid area gearing up for World Cup Freestyle later this week, locals hoping that this storm puts a nice frosting on the surrounding peaks...and the big FIS news of course is from Kitzbuehel, where men's alpine competition saw a severely abbreviated version of the famed Hahnenkamm in Saturday's downhill. Norway's talented Kjetil Jansrud won the minute long sprint. Although this course didn't include the legendary Mausefalle or Steilhang, which were all enshrouded in fog, it was still bumpy on the Zielschuss and quite hairy for most of the one minute course. Personally I think the abbreviated race is a much better option than cancelling. Dominik Paris of Italy was second, Frenchman Guillermo Fayed third. Nice run by Steve Nyman, who finished fifth. Yesterday's slalom event saw Swede Mattias Hargin in the top spot, followed by overall leader Marcel Hirscher and German star Felix Neureuther. This solid finish kept Neureuther in the lead for the slalom globe. The ladies meanwhile were in St. Moritz where Lindsey Vonn had a disappointing downhill run on Saturday, leaving the door open for Swiss star Lara Gut, reigning champ Anna Fenninger, and little known Edit Miklos of Hungary on the podium, in that order. Congratulations to Miklos on her first World Cup podium. If she continues her winning ways she's got to get a better haircut. Yesterday the St. Moritz Super G saw the return of the Vonn Express; she edged Fenninger by 2/10ths, with Austrian veteran Nicole Hosp in third. The win put Vonn just ahead of Fenninger in the chase for the Super G globe; Vonn still leads the downhill and is now, remarkably, third in the overall. Tina Maze continues to lead the overall and the multi-discipline star will be tough to catch...Here's Lindsey showing her winning form on the Engiadina course yesterday in St. Moritz, photo courtesy FIS... ...not many people gonna do THAT after tearing up their knee...Magic Mountain Vermont has taken it on the chin with this lack of snow, but they're calling for a rare mid-week opening Wednesday based on the forecast...news that a 17-year-old male died Friday at Mission Ridge in Washington State after he lost control on the Tumwater run and slammed into a tree. No further details...tragedy also at Keystone Colorado, Air Force Academy freshman Cadet John "Jack" Lindsey was pronounced dead by the Summit County coroner after a skiing accident Saturday. Lindsey originally from Louisiana and said to be an accomplished skier...our thoughts and prayers are with both families...and now for those who knew that Friday's photo was snagged at Attitash in New Hampshire, give yourself a mark. Attitash is celebrating its 50th anniversary today...southwest still waiting for more snow, Arizona Snowbowl in Flagstaff is a bit more than half open. What they have open is certainly very good, but nobody's gonna call it epic...troubles continue in California, add Badger Pass, Mt. Shasta, and Alta Sierra to the growing list of resorts temporarily closed for lack of snow...Vermont State Auditor Doug Hoffer wants to charge more for public land leased to ski resorts. Hoffer says the current rates, which bring in about $3 million a year, aren't high enough. One fly in the ointment -- the rates are locked in for the next forty (40) years. Areas enjoying the current terms include Stowe, Okemo, Smuggs, Jay, Killington, Q-Burke, and Bromley. Ski Vermont counters that the resorts return significantly greater good to the state economy.

23 January 2015 TV broadcast of the Hahnenkamm Downhill on the Streif course in Kitzbuehel tomorrow, 10:30 AM EST on NBCSN with Steve Porino leading the coverage. Hope you'll be on the slopes at that time, but if you can tape this (you know, DVR or whatever) definitely do so...so here's the latest from the 'buehel: the Zielschuss jump is back. This is the lip above the finish line that has pitched a number of racers to the immediate conclusion of their careers. Most recently American Scott Macartney (2008) and Swiss great Daniel Albrecht (2009), two horrific crashes that prompted organizers to more or less eliminate the jump. Scotty Mac, if you remember, hit so hard and so often that it knocked his helmet off, and he ended up face down at the finish line, twitching. Well now the race committee has decided that the race is lesser because of it, so it's back, but with a "clean" in-run in the words of US racer Steve Nyman. Chief of race Peter Obernauer says "It's precisely marked now. The racer knows exactly where he will take off and can prepare for it." Meanwhile the organizers shaved a bit off the infamous Mausfalle (Mousetrap) jump at the beginning of the course, at the request of the racers' representative, Kjetil Jansrud of Norway. Jansrud says "They took away just a little bit but it's good. It's Kitzbuehel, and this is not a kids' race." Super G this morning won by Italy's Dominik Paris; Austrians Matthias Mayer and Georg Streitberger rounding out the podium. Bode Miller has withdrawn from the downhill, despite his sixth place showing in the second training run. Millers explains "I need to race this thing 100 percent if I go, and I'm just not there yet." Which, if you know anything about him, speaks volumes about this event...Stratton VT doing a free Burton snowboard demo January 30th. For those who don't know the history, Stratton was arguably the mountain that helped launch Burton, and perhaps the entire snowboard industry as a result. It would've happened with or without Stratton, but somebody had to provide the first real venue to showcase the sport, and they were it. As you know, the sport had its share of growing pains and wasn't always exactly embraced by the skiing community, so I imagine there were times when Stratton wondered what evil they had wrought. But things have found a comfort level these days, mostly, so I think it's cool that Stratton and Burton are working together to promote boarding as they did way back when...speaking of demos, Loveland CO demoing Gilson boards and Moment skis today...next weekend a wild randonee race event at Mad River Glen and Sugarbush I think entrants will skin up Mad River Glen, traverse the Green Mountains, ski down Lincoln Peak or something. Maybe I have it reversed. Doesn't matter, either way it's a heck of a race. The more these two ski areas work together, the better it will be for northeastern skiers...about a foot and a half of new snow this week at the aforementioned 'bush and MRG; even Middlebury Snow Bowl is 100% open...Bromley at 100% ...ups and downs continue at Vermont's Magic Mountain but at least they've got the entire east side open. Terrific ski area if you haven't been there...new bit of fun here, see if you can guess where this is, USA... ...we'll have the answer Monday. I'll serve up one of these "guess where you are" photos at least once a week, maybe more. Guess correctly, you get a mark of merit. For every three marks of merit, you get a gold star. Save up three gold stars, you earn an extra special mark of merit...in Vermont Pico to have 100% terrain on tap this weekend...move north and west a bit to Whiteface NY and they'll be hosting FIS World Cup Freestyle next week, that's Hannah Kearney and a bunch of ladies named Dufour-Lapointe...Hannah Kearney is awesome...moving down to the Berkshires, Jiminy Peak has all but a half dozen trails open...Pennsy's Blue Mountain 100% open...man in his 60s died yesterday at Stowe , doesn't sound like it was related to a collision, we'll have details Monday...in Cali $15 tix for college students today at Boreal...problems linger in the pacific NW, even the Mt. Bachelor faithful are grumbling about the lack of snow, despite the fact they've got plenty on that old volcano.

22 January 2015 Apparently some University of Michigan students need a good kick in the pants; Sigma Alpha Mu fraternity members caused $50,000 worth of damage to lodging at Sylvan Resort near Gaylord. Sylvan GM Barry Owens called in the Michigan State Police after the students failed to clean up their act. "We tried to address it with them, but we made a mistake and took these people at their word when they said they would change their behavior," said Owens...meanwhile other University of Michigan students from two as yet unnamed fraternities wreaked similar havoc at Boyne Highlands, trashing a dozen condos. Some of the Treetops aftermath... ...no word if Keith Moon was among the partygoers...the white circus known as FIS World Cup has the ladies in St. Moritz and the men for the week-long lunacy in Kitzbuehel. In the 'buehel, Bode Miller quietly placed 6th in today's training run for the Hahnenkamm; Kjetil Jansrud was fastest. Training for the downhill in St. Mo, fastest this morning was Lindsey Vonn, firmly back to her old habits...Attitash NH 50th anniversary is Monday, they are doing a thing this weekend 24th & 25th with FREE lift tickets for active duty, veteran and retired service men and women as well as discounted lift tickets ($45 All Ages) for active duty family members with valid ID. I like that. For the rest of us, Ski & Ride for just $19.65 on the anniversary date Monday 26th...since we're in New Hampshire, Loon has opened their superpipe...it's not all lollipops and gummy bears in New England; up-and-down weather means virtually none of the larger resorts are 100% open; Sugarloaf has roughly half its trails open today. Right now mountain ops is working on Hayburner and Whiffletree, after touching up Tote Road...the glaring exeption is Killington which even today has every trail open with the exception of a few odd connectors below Bear Peak...Mount Snow reports 95% open...not bad, but not as good as the Tetons; Grand Targhee reports 100% open with 230" of snow so far this season...more student body news, this time from modest University of Maine Farmington, that they will begin offering a 24-credit certification in "Alpine Operations," aka how to run a ski resort. U Maine Farmington had a course prior, but dropped it in 2008 amidst a slumping economy. Nearby biggies Sugarloaf and Sunday River felt the loss in their talent pool, so they worked with the school to re-start a "new improved" version. Small but mighty local Titcomb Mountain is also involved in the program....in Montana, 24-year-old Luke Baertlein was BC skiing Sunday on MacDonald Pass west of Helena, got lost, somehow broke his skis, and eventually called 9-1-1 at a few minutes before 6 pm. He was rescued a little over an hour later, a half mile from the parking lot. Dressed in blue jeans and generally light clothing, Mr. Baertlein was hypothermic but is recovering. "What he did right was stay in one position, and that allowed us to pinpoint the coordinates and respond to find him," said Lewis and Clark County Sheriff Leo Dutton....in Colorado Aspen Skiing Co better known as SkiCo, is reporting skier numbers as "flat" so far this season...California news, conditions are great if you pick your spots; Boreal for example is firing on all cylinders. But if you don't check your area first, you could be in for a rude surprise -- for example both Dodge Ridge and Badger Pass are currently shut down for lack of snow. Dodge says they could spin their beginner lifts, but to what end....turn north and find more moaning the blues, Tahoe Donner XC is also temporarily closed for lack of snow...So it's an up-and-down season, to be sure.

20 January 2015 6" fresh snow at Arapahoe Basin...90 trails now open at Stratton...spots of fresh snow in parts of the midwest; Granite Peak WI has a nice coating this morning...2" fresh at Lutsen MN this morning, it's also a seasonable 14 degrees F...today's sign of Apocolypse: Alex Nash, a 5-year-old British lad, has been invoiced 16 pounds sterling (about $24 USD) for failing to attend another kid's birthday party held at Plymouth Ski Slope & Snowboard Centre in southern England. Dad says little Alex planned to go, but later realized he was to visit grandmum that day. But Julie Lawrence, the parent hosting the event, had to pay for his slot anyway. So she apparently gave her child an invoice to give Alex, and he dutifully brought it home in his backpack. Dad Derek Nash says he ain't paying; Mom Julie says she'll sue. In case your wondering what the Plymouth Ski Slope & Snowboard Centre looks like, here's part of it... ...while we're on the subject of legal matters, news that Vermonter Andrea Miller has been sentenced to 18 months in the clink after pleading guilty to embezzling 40 grand out of Smugglers Notch Resort. Ms. Miller had been with Smuggs purchasing department since 2002, and she was sending false invoices and and paying herself...since we're on Vermont, apparently a pair of Burlington men took a wrong turn while skiing at Sugarbush last weekend, got lost on Mount Ellen and it started snowing. Vermont State Police Search and Rescue team, Sugarbush Ski Patrol and officials from the town of Warren ran the search and located the wayward duo, who were said to be disoriented but otherwise fine...and in Colorado, the White River National Forest released an environmental impact statement Friday, detailing the proposed recreation expansion plans at Breckenridge Resort. It's mostly summer stuff and includes zip lines, canopy tours, ropes challenge courses, new mountain biking and hiking trails, an observation tower, blah blah blah. The USFS is asking for more public comments....downtown Breckenridge there's a cool exhibit on 100 years of skiing in Summit County, running right now at the aptly named Summit County Ski Museum on South Main Street; if you're headed to Breck or Frisco or whatever, it's certainly worth a stop if you're into ski history...while we're in Summit County, guess I should mention that Copper Mountain offers free ambassador-led snowshoe tours, twice daily. Morning junket is about three miles, while the afternoon tour is shorter and more family oriented. They will rent snowshoes, but if you bring your own the reservation is free. This is a good idea....Okemo putting the finishing touches on a halfpipe, one of the few in Vermont these days...Powder Mountain Utah doing a thing tonight, six lift tickets for $60. They don't have an overwhelming amount of lit terrain, but regardless, that's a darn good deal...and word from Colorado is Chris Diamond, Steamboat's president of 15 years, will retire in June.

19 January 2015 This morning Lindsey Vonn topped the podium in the Cortina Super G race and is unquestionably the winningest womens skier in the history of the sport, surpassing Annemarie Moser-Proell's 35-year-old record of 62 World Cup victories. She tied it yesterday (Sunday) with a win in the downhill, second of the weekend in Cortina -- the Saturday downhill was an abbreviated course and didn't give Vonn the distance at which she positively dominates. Anywho, the crowd in Cortina was all abuzz when a masked man entered the finish area, and turned out to be Tiger Woods to congratulate Linz. Vonn had tied the record when she won the downhill yesterday, beating Austrian great Elisabeth Goergl by 3/10ths, with Italy's Daniela Merighetti taking third. Super G today Vonn blistered the course, finishing 8/10ths ahead of reigning overall champ Anna Fenninger, Tina Weirather of Liechtenstein third. Slovenia's Tina Maze finished 4th today, 5th yesterday, and with off days like those she's putting distance on the rest of the field for this year's overall...Back to the record...I'm not saying this to take anything away from Vonn -- she'll no doubt add more victories and what follows won't be all that relevant. The 62 - 63 victories is close enough to Ruth/Maris 60 - 61 homers that it bears disclosing; like Maris, Vonn has the "luxury" of a slightly longer season, sort of. Both Vonn and Moser-Proell have victories across all disciplines, from the tech stuff right up to the gnarly downhills, with combi event victories to boot. Like Vonn, Moser-Proell did most of her damage in the speed events, and there's the footnote -- Moser-Proell never had an opportunity to garner any Super G wins, as it didn't exist until a couple years after her retirement. I'm not suggesting a footnote, just pointing out that it was a different time....so who's the best ever? I recall that, in her time, Moser-Proell was every bit as dominant as Vonn, so I'm not ready to say that Vonn is the best of all-time. In fact, Moser-Proell was arguably a better all-around skier. But I am ready to say that Vonn and Moser-Proell are the two best professional skiers of all time. Now even the most disinterested race fan will say, wait second, you're forgetting Ingemar Stenmark and his 86 victories! Well fact is Stenmark was strictly technical; never won a speed event. In fact he wasn't even comfortable competing in speed events -- think of him as the Marcel Hirscher of his day. Second on the men's tally is the legendary Herman Maier, who was the opposite of Stenmark, the Hermanator never won a pure slalom...now some will say, OK, but Moser-Proell dominated for a full decade, what about Vonn? Well if we turn back the clock to 2005 World Championships in Bormio, Lindsey (then-Kildow) finished 4th in the downhill, 4th in the combi. Two years later here's Lindsey Kildow in Are Sweden after she was edged in both speed events at the World Championships by Anja Paersson... ...photo courtesy the US Ski & Snowboard Association. So yes, Lindsey has been the one to beat for a decade. The best ski racer in the history of the sport? It's either Annemarie Moser-Proell or Lindsey Vonn, take your pick. A few more wins and the debate will be over, Vonn will stand alone at the top...and dammit I don't understand why Americans barely watch ski racing when it is on television...and if you knew that Friday's cool inversion photo was taken at Wintergreen Resort in Virginia, give yourself one mark of merit...thanks to all who sent me their guesses, more correct than you might expect...Pac NW still plagued by rain, but not all; Anthony Lakes even started up their cat operation this past weekend...bad weather in the east had a silver lining for some, for example 2" fresh at Stratton this morning...9" fresh pow at Jackson Hole, abundance of riches there...excellent conditions this morning at Stowe Vermont....big hits at Paoli Peaks Indiana terrain park last night, they finally wrapped it up this morning at 6 am. I'm tired just thinking about it...major thaw was supposed to hit much of the east this coming week, won't be as bad as expected, and in some spots won't even happen.

16 January 2015 Resorts putting the finishing touches on terrain offerings for the Holiday Weekend...Vermont's Stratton opening the far-flung but popular Kidderbrook trail, as well as the Tyrolienne Terrain Park, bringing their total to just about 100%...across the valley, Bromley has just about everything open, did experience a summit lift windhold today...bootstrap operation Black Mountain of Maine is rocking the Bates College Winter Carnival today, and they've got 100% of territory open...Blue Mountain Pennsy is 100% open as of today, lots of white snow overlooking a grayish landscape, not a spot of snow to be seen off the mountain...Colorado's Loveland is starting up their ridge cat tour service this weekend. They're also opening up a new warming cabin at treeline, off chair 8...New York's biggie Gore is now open virtually wall-to-wall, including back-and-forth to the North Creek Ski Bowl...move north to Titus Mountain serving up a couple ungroomed inches of fresh snow this morning, excellent conditions there...Wildcat New Hampshire is 90% open, possibly a bit more tomorrow...Vermont's Bolton Valley running all six lifts...and just to sum up New England, right now it is snowing -- dumping really -- everywhere from Mount Snow clear across to Sunday River, and everything in between. Absolutely one of the best days of the season...California's Boreal has a cool rail jam tonight at 5:30 called the "Expression Session"...new bit of fun here, see if you can guess where this is, USA... ...we'll have the answer over the weekend, or perhaps Monday if I get writer's block. I'll serve up one of these "guess where you are" photos at least once a week, maybe more. Guess correctly, you get a mark of merit. For every three marks of merit, you get a gold star. Save up three gold stars, you can send them in for a free SKI BUM USA color sticker for your helmet, board, tuning bench, or whatever. Good luck!...so the ladies have finished the FIS World Cup downhill event in Cortina, and I guess the Lindsey watch is full on, because the biggest story is -- Linz didn't win. Italy's Elena Fanchini took top spot, followed by Canadian Larisa Yurkiw, her first podium, and Germany's Viktoria Rebensburg. USA's Laurenne Ross finished a respectable 4th, Julia Mancuso 8th, and Vonn 10th, which keeps her atop the DH standings...the men meanwhile are in Wengen where the biggest news today is that Bode Miller has decided not to compete in the Lauberhorn. Oh yeah, they did have a super combi competition today, won by Switzerland's Carlo Janka...Wild Mountain Minnesota offering $16 lift tickets for a holiday 8pm-1am session tomorrow night...Jackson Hole seasonal snow total now past 200 inches.

15 January 2015 Update on yesterday's report that Vail Resorts says business this season is better than last, seems that is not the case at the company's Tahoe properties Northstar, Kirkwood and even their regional flagship Heavenly , due to unusual amounts of early season rain. Factoring in the Tahoe trio, Vail says skier visits company-wide are up just 1.8%. Vail prez Bob Katz says the Colorado properties -- Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge -- led the charge, with Utah -- The Canyons, Park City -- also up early season...Did I mention that Lindsey Vonn leads the chase for the downhill discipline globe? Regular readers recall when I said she was done, so I am eating a steady diet of crow, and happy to do it...61-year-old Salt Lake City freeheeler Bill Dunn spent a harrowing night lost in the backcountry in American Fork Canyon earlier this week, fortunately he survived with no ill effects other than some minor frostbite. Dunn skinned up near the Supreme chair at Alta, skied down the backside, and hiked up again. At that point he thought he turned for Little Cottonwood Canyon, but skied down into American Fork instead. The snow was great, so he kept going. Dunn was rescued by a group of passing snowmobilers...backyard syndrome kind of a problem in parts of the country, as in, if they don't see snow, they don't go. Nowhere worse right now than West Virginia, which isn't thought of as a skiing destination, but it certainly is for a huge population base across the mid-Atlantic to Ohio. I think the seasonal snowfall total in Charleston, WV is something like zero, but the conditions at places like Canaan Valley, Winterplace, from biggie Snowshoe down to tiny Oglethorpe all serving up great snow right now, as this morning's snapshot from Timberline Four Season Resort shows (not to be confused with Timberline, OR)... ...and even the nordies can find winter goodness at White Grass Ski Touring Center, Elk River Touring Center and Blackwater Falls State Park, Timberline too, all open with kilometers of trails...in Virginia, same deal, no snow in the burbs but Wintergreen almost 100% open, all but the Outer Limits/Turkey Chute route...good as conditions are in Colorado, it's still not exactly "epic" as Arapahoe Basin still unable to open the East Wall access gates...news from Vermont, Q-Burke once known simply as Burke Mountain, has applied with the state to install lights on two lower mountain novice trails. Estimated cost of the project, if approved, is about a quarter million dollars...New England Ski Industry.com says the rumor mill is going hot and heavy around the defunct Tenney Mountain ski area near Plymouth, NH, supposedly trying to reopen as early as next season. Tenney was recently sold to a group of investors or developers or something...Marker/Volkl has entered into an agreement to purchase Dalbello, an Italian bootmaker founded in 1974. Sale slated to go through during this quarter. I'm personally a fan of Dalbello boots. I've owned countless brands since my first lace-up leathers, tried on hundreds of different boots over the past dozen years publishing various ski websites, also sold dozens of Dalbello kids boots while volunteering at ski swaps, I think they make a very well constructed ski boot....and troubling news for the entire industry from Peak Resorts, reporting that skier and snowboarder numbers for November/December are below the five year average due to late openings at their midwest properties, notably Hidden Valley in Missouri, Mad River Mountain in Central Ohio, and Boston Mills/Brandywine near Cleveland. Even the rising tide at Mount Snow VT and Jack Frost/Big Boulder Pennsy wasn't enough to lift all the boats...in Michigan Boyne Mountain and Boyne Highlands both reporting 100% of terrain open...Squaw/Alpine CA debuting a bunch of new features in the Goldcoast Terrain Park...Okemo VT currently cutting a superpipe...up on Mt Hood Timberline Lodge has plenty of terrain open but some is thin cover; igneous conditions may be encountered...turn south, and sorry to report Oregon's little-engine-that-could Mt Ashland closed for lack of snow, again....Loon NH is at 95% of terrain.

14 January 2015 Exciting FIS World Cup night slalom race yesterday in Flachau, Mikaela Shiffrin blistered the second run but it wasn't enough to edge past Sweden's Frida Hansdotter and Slovenian ace Tina Maze, who finished one-two on the strength of much better first runs. The race for the discipline globe currently stands at Hansdotter/Shiffrin/Maze; Maze has a significant lead in the overall...Hunter Mountain NY looking to drop ropes on the Westway trail for the weekend...6"+ fresh yesterday at Taos...and Snowbird reports take from Monday's storm was about 18"...unexpected snow fell today in Vermont at Mount Snow...downslope snow or upslope snow or whatever-you-call-it throughout this week now has Sugarbush Vermont at 100% open, and that includes 100% of Glen Ellen...in Maine Sugarloaf is making snow up on the summit snowfields...in Pennsy Montage will be hosting a Magic Hat tasting tomorrow evening...business news, in a nutshell: Vail Resorts reports skier visits and dollars both up. Meanwhile Intrawest says its early season numbers are mixed; visits are down but revenue is up. Intrawest blames it mostly on poor weather in the east and Canada, says business is good at flagship resorts Steamboat and Winter Park...and we're pleased to report that Arizona Snowbowl is now open to the top, thanks to some decent snow yesterday.

13 January 2015 Surprise snow yesterday in Little Cottonwood Canyon, 10" at Snowbird...snow yesterday across much of New England, surprise powder day at places like Okemo...rain and freezing rain south of that, places like Mountain Creek NJ got wet but still serving up a decent amount of terrain...neglected to mention the FIS World Cup ladies are in Flachau right now for one of those glamorous night slalom events; here's Mikaela Shiffrin ... ...they're about midway through the first run as I type this. Couple of notes, Resi Stiegler was a non-starter, unsure why. Swede Frida Hansdotter leads after the first run...that rain that brutalized the mid-Atlantic stayed pretty solid in much of northern New England; Mount Snow dropping ropes on everything they got as far as I can tell; Sunbrook to the North Face seems to be all open with plenty of natural ungroomed stuff at all ability levels, that in addition to the usual smooth stuff Sneaux is famous for...move up to Killington they've got everything including Great Eastern down to US Route 4, looks like just a few of their more torturous paths are yet to open...heading north on Route 100 Mad River Glen has everything open from Chipmunk to Paradise with the exception of the practice trails, I imagine they are being preserved for competitions...keep going north and Jay Peak got 10" of fresh and has dropped the ropes on Face Chutes and Tucks, which doesn't matter to most of the world since those routes are out of reach for all but the very best, but it is Jay after all so those trails probably have a steady stream of skiers today...speaking of tough terrain, let's turn to Michigan where Mt Bohemia received three feet of snow in the past ten days and has opened powder stashes in Outer Limits, Middle Earth and Graveyard...that brief warm spot in the east and midwest wasn't a total disaster, actually business as usual...Paoli Peaks Indiana has made the most of the frigid temps, the Empire Terrain Park is now open...in Utah, a foot of new snow at Powder Mountain. You know I have to scratch my head when it comes to PowMow, they have cat rides and hike-to terrain and terrain where you ride a school bus, but the fact is you can virtually find fresh untracked snow anytime you want, pretty much right out the front door of the lodge. One time I was hiking to hike-to terrain, and I realized I was hiking past untracked powder. I think I said "what the hell am I doing"...easterners would do well to head to Montage in Pennsy today, tickets are just $19.84 in recognition of their 30th anniversary...thinking back to the 1980s, sorry to report that character actor Taylor Negron succumbed to cancer yesterday, he usually played very small parts but did so with temendous impact...some resorts gearing up for MLK weekend...Okemo Vermont putting on their first ever laser light show Sunday night...in NY Titus Mountain will host its 11th Annual Armed Forces Day on Saturday. All veterans, active, in-training, reserve and retired members of both the U.S. & Canadian armed forces, as well as their immediate families, will be entitled to a complimentary all-day lift ticket. Very cool...6" fresh snow fell on Mt. Charleston, home of Las Vegas Ski & Snowboard Resort...somehow in my roundup of falls and fatalities yesterday, overlooked the story of a 9-year-old boy who fell 25 feet off the Strata Quad at Liberty Mountain in southern Pennsylvania this weekend. Fortunately he fell into soft snow and escaped with just a leg injury. Now, I don't know the severity of that injury, but whatever it is he's in pretty good shape considering...did you know that Cataloochee Ski Area in Maggie Valley, NC added a new intermediate trail this season? I did not know that. But I did know that the Cat is doing a neat little "Slide in Five" deal that includes tickets, rentals and lessons for any five-day twilight or night sessions during the season, and if you do all five you get a complimentary pair of skis from Elan...did you know that Steamboat Resort and the City of Steamboat joined forces to open a nordic center last season? Apparently they didn't say much about it, but it's starting to catch on. Third one in the town, and they all seem to be doing ok...tough times in Anchorage Alaska, Arctic Valley still doesn't have enough white stuff to open.

12 January 2015 We'll lead off with all the recent action in FIS World Cup, first the men in Adelboden for a pair of technical races, Saturday saw world champ Marcel Hirscher win the GS followed by Alexis Pinturault and Henrik Kristoffersen, and way back in 7th, Ted Ligety. Yesterday in the slalom, Italian Stefano Gross won, followed by Germany's Fritz Dopfer and I guess Hirscher was taking the day off because he finished third. Ladies were in Bad Kleinkirchheim over the weekend. Downhill was cancelled due to weather on Saturday; Super G kicked off yesterday but was halted after a dozen or so skiers. Now the women are off to Cortina and the men have moved to Wengen, where Bode Miller is scheduled to make the training run tomorrow on the Lauberhorn. Here's a visual of the famed Zielschuss and finish... ...let's get the round-up of accidents and fatalities over with...5-year-old boy fell off a double chair at Spring Mountain in Pennsylvania, fell 23 feet and is believed to be in good condition with just a slight cut on his face and possible leg injury. The boy was wearing a helmet, and conscious after the fall. Witnesses say he slid under the restraint bar on the chair. If you aren't familiar with Spring Mountain don't be too alarmed, it's a very modest hill north of Philly...officials confirmed yesterday that 37-year-old Brian Fletcher of Medford, Oregon died at the Mt. Hood SkiBowl back on December 31st, apparently caught an edge on Middle Reynolds and fell on his head and chest. If you're keeping track, this is the third fatality in Skibowl's history...and this past week, 63-year-old Charles Johnson of Salt Lake City died when he hit a tree at Snowbird. Witnesses say Johnson was moving at a very high rate of speed when he lost control near the Little Cloud chairlift...Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of both men, and we certainly hope for a rapid recovery for the little boy who fell at Spring Mountain...big fish in a little pond when Olympic medalist Nick Goepper stopped in for a ski & greet Saturday at Afton Alps near Minneapolis...back to the Pac NW Hoodoo just shut down, lack of snow...this just in, a tweenage girl (something like 11 - 15 years old) fell off a chair at Berkshire East in Massachusetts on Friday but was unhurt. Witnesses say she was "fooling around" with friends while riding the chair. I urge you to ground your children if they fool around on lifts. Anyone who fools around on a lift should have their tickets clipped. Do it a second time and they should be banned from the resort...and this report from New England Lost Ski Area Project, seems that the old Snow's Mountain Ski Area adjacent to and owned by Waterville Valley NH will open for a special history day on February 27th. The lift has been maintained for mountain biking and whatnot. New England Ski Museum will be involved; interested New Englanders should definitely try and attend that one...Boreal Mountain wants me to remind you that they have two (2) free electrical vehicle charging stations.

9 January 2015 Huzzah! Wednesday night temps dropped in Alabama and Cloudmont cranked up all of its snowmaking arsenal (yep, all five guns) and officially opened for skiing yesterday...and in Washington Stevens Pass finally got enough to reopen yesterday...News from FIS World Cup, ladies are in Bad Kleinkirchheim, Austria for a downhill on the Franz Klammer course tomorrow, Super G on Sunday. The men meanwhile are in Adelboden Switzerland for a pair of technical events...a bunch of terrain expansions in the northeast...Wildcat drops the ropes on Alley Cat today; snowing like crazy in Pinkham Notch this morning. The 'Cat was closed yesterday due to temps, passes/tickets honored down in the valley at Attitash...Bolton Valley will open Timberline tomorrow...Gore opening the big Burnt Ridge section today...and not just the northeast, Boreal opens Neffland today...back to Gore, NELSAP guru Jeremy Davis giving a presentation tomorrow evening at the Tannery Pond Community Center in North Creek, speaking on lost ski areas of the Southern Adirondacks at 5:15 with wine and cheese to follow...speaking of speakers, recommend the Utah Adventure Journal Speaker Series at Snowbird, usually in the Wildflower Lounge. Schedule looks like this: 01/22 Doug Stoup, Skiing the Planet; 02/05 Scott Marketwitz, Stories Behind the Images; 02/12 Brody Leven, Pedal to Peaks; 03/05 Jim Harris, Patagonia SPICE; 03/19 Andrew McLean, The Slotterhouse; and wraps up on 03/26 with Annelise Loevlie, A Universal Language. Inspiration guaranteed...Michigan's Caberfae enjoy a terrific powder day today...some business news from California, Big Bear Mountain Resorts, owner of Snow Summit and Bear Mountain an estimates a total of 14,000 skiers and snowboarders last Saturday between the two. Regional fave Snow Valley says daily average was 5,000 bodies on the hill, while Mountain High had a similar number on hand last Saturday. Up to 11" of fresh fell on the region last week, and when Californians can see that snow on the peaks, they clog Highway 330...freeing the heels and stretching the skins is forbidden at a lot of resorts, but it seems the whole state of Colorado is embracing the earn-your-turns crowd. Arapahoe Basin, Wolf Creek, Crested Butte Mountain Resort, Sunlight, Powderhorn, Copper Mountain, Breckenridge, Steamboat, Snowmass and Buttermilk all encourage the practice, and most of that list is hosting some sort of uphill race this season. Skico spokesman Damien Williamson says "Uphilling is taking off everywhere, but Aspen has a long history of it. We want to be the epicenter of uphilling in North America." Which is pretty cool, especially for Skico...Vermont's Sugarbush had the upper mountain areas closed yesterday due to cold temps; Maine's Rocky & Bullwinkle themed Mt. Abram called off night operations last night...apparently the fire at shuttered Vermont resort Ascutney was quite severe and the lodge is a total loss...Mt Hood SkiBowl opening its west rope terrain park with a rail jam today at 3 PM...have a great weekend, go get it!

8 January 2015 Good deal in the Pac NW, this Sunday and for the next six Sundays, Anthony Lakes Mountain Resort is offering a program for 5th and 6th grade students -- free lift ticket, rental, and mandatory lesson. All they gotta do is register every Sunday from 9 - 10am at the ticket booth with a school ID or current report card, as well as an adult. The adult gets a $20 lift ticket. That's a darn good program...let me just say Ohio State is a fantastic school, however I despise the football team, mainly because of Woody Hayes. Now they've had a lot of great players -- Jim Parker, Rex Kern, John Brockington, Paul Warfield, Pepper Johnson, Tom Cousineau -- I could go on and on. But whenever I see that silver and red I see Woody Hayes. But I'm a Big-10 fan, through and through, I like the good people of Columbus, and definitely think they do a nice job at Snow Trails up in Mansfield, so I just might root for the Buckeyes. Hmmm...move to eastern Pennsy and Shawnee Mountain has all but a half dozen trails open, making snow on those. Here's a look at the base area prior to opening this morning... ...Stratton Vermont reports the new gondy on wind hold this morning...Michigan's Caberfae Peaks serving up about 10" of fresh this morning...back to Vermont, seems one way to beat the bitter cold is to head to the former Ascutney ski resort base lodge, which is burning right to the ground this morning...this right on the heels of an overnight fire in a snowmaking pumphouse at Smuggler's Notch. The building is a total loss; spokesperson sez it isn't critical to day-to-day operations...Watertown NY small but mighty Dry Hill re-opened yesterday, partly...California's Boreal offers $15 tix tomorrow with college ID...good numbers out of Montana; Big Sky Resort broke its single day attendance record on New Year's Eve with 8,068 bodies on the hill. Previous topper at Big Sky was 7500 on a December day in 2013. All in all Big Sky reports business 8% ahead of last season thus far. Similar deal at Bridger Bowl, which set a new single day attendance record on December 28th with 4,832 skiers and riders. I don't know how many of those tumbled down Schlasman.

7 January 2015 A 15-year-old male from the Colorado Springs area has been arrested in connection with the two attempted assaults that occurred at Monarch Mountain in December; name not released due to age. Let's hope this is the right man...35" of new snow in three days in the Tetons; Jackson Hole pretty much open from side to side...I don't make a lot of plugs for rates and sale tickets, unless they're really good, tonight and every Wednesday night is ladies night at Powder Mountain Utah; gals ski under the lights for just $15...low temps and new snow in the northeast; the super cold temps are hindering some snowmaking efforts but a lot of areas are getting an inch or two of free product out of the skies. Mount Snow this morning with 2" of fresh...in New Hampshire, Loon is getting dustings, has the guns on, dropped the ropes on the scenic Angel Street trail this morning...in eastern Pennsy, Montage has the fan guns screaming, plenty of terrain and seldom much in the way of lift lines...Catskills fave Belleayre expect to see the wonderful Dot Nebel trail open later this week...move north to Gore, mountain ops now focused on Burnt Ridge...moving west, Boreal California serving up soft snow and deep blue skies today...midwest skiers might want to have a look at Granite Peak Wisconsin's expansion plans, click here for the pdf file. Heck, even if you aren't a Cheesehead it's interesting and informative to see the planning process presented so clearly...and I guess newsworthy, Granite is closed today due to the extreme cold temps, planning to reopen tomorrow...sorry to report that backcountry skier Olivia Buchanan of Durango, CO died yesterday in an avy on nearby Kendall Mountain. Buchanan was on part of the mountain called the Rabbit Ears gully or chute, and was below timberline, apparently swept into the trees...ok, here's how not to behave if you harbor any hopes at all of getting a lift ticket refunded. Happened this weekend at Bridger Bowl in Montana where some dude went suborbital when he found out the Schlasman Lift requires skiers and riders to have an avy beacon. Warning: the video includes both lunacy and profanity... ...hopefully that video jives with our new website...if you're familiar with Terrain Based Learning (TBL) you gotta know it's the best thing to come along since GLM. Well, that isn't saying much. Anyway, a lot of instructors who work with little kids agree that TBL is really good, and it makes sense. This is kind of a long-winded introduction to my real point here, which is that three northeast stalwarts, Cranmore, Bromley and Jiminy Peak are offering lift tickets and introductory Terrain Based Learning for beginning skiers and riders on Jan. 19 and March 15 to the first 50 people who register in advance...some interesting data just released on US Forest Service fees paid by Colorado resorts operating on public land in the White River National Forest. Here's an incomplete rundown for last season: Breckenridge highest of the Summit County areas, paying $3.5 million f for use of 2,908 acres for skiing and riding. Keystone paid $2.07 million for use of 3,148 acres, which was 14 percent more than the previous season. Copper paid $1.07 million for use of 2,465 acres, a 12.5 percent hike. Highest rent in this particular USFS unit was paid by Vail, $5.3 million fee for use of 5,289 acres, a 14 percent increase over 2012....and this just in, summit opened today at Mt Bachelor near Bend, Oregon.

6 January 2015 Pains me to repeat it, Ronnie Berlack, 20, of Franconia, N.H., and Bryce Astle, 19, of Sandy, Utah, were skiing with four teammates in Soelden when they were caught in the avalanche, according to a prepared statement from the US Ski Team. Berlack was long associated with Burke Mountain Academy while Astle was a fixture on the Snowbird ski team prior to joining USSA. Our thoughts and prayers are with their families...appropriate that a big chill has settled upon much of the country...guns in the banana belt are running 24-7 at places like Paoli Peaks Indiana...northeast the guns are slamming at Mount Snow...in Wyoming, Jackson Hole enjoying some of its finest early January conditions in recent memory...in Colorado Loveland now has chair 9 spinning, that's the one that goes to the top of the Divide, so now the Big L is open side to side. Some of our regulars and correspondents aren't fans of Loveland; I have to say I am but admit the layout is quirky and it takes some getting used to. I put it in with two other ski tows in Colorado that give you a lot of bang for a very reasonable price, namely Arapahoe Basin and Ski Cooper...let's bounce around a bit...in New Mexico, Taos has about 2/3 terrain open everywhere except West Basin Ridge, which is beyond most of us anyway...move up to Mt. Charleston, Las Vegas Ski & Snowboard has all lifts running but rather limited terrain offerings. What they do have open is nicely done, groomed and reasonably well covered...west to the San Gabriels, pretty much the same story at Mountain High has half of their lifts running but less than 1/3 of the terrain open. That's skiing in the southwest; you tend to live for February...picture improving up at Mt Hood Meadows but we expect spring-like conditions there today, one of the few places in the country you can ski without umpteen layers...speaking of Gore-Tex, move to Michigan and Ski Brule skiers and boarders are enjoying 100% of terrain open and every article of clothing they can possibly wear...temps are down, finally, in Alabama but we regret that Cloudmont has yet to open. If you've never seen this little golf course operation, here's what it looks like when conditions are on... ...in Maine, natural snowfall finally starting to show up at phoenix-like Eaton Mountain, they've postponed their return to skiing (first since 2006) planned for last weekend, may happen next weekend...in Utah, Deer Valley not sitting idly by after Vail Resorts Inc. announced the plan to link Park City Mountain Resort to The Canyons; Deer Valley says they're gonna put in a gondy from the heart of Park City downtown to whisk people right up to the Stein Ericksen Lodge. Now you might expect Mr. Katz and Vail Inc. to try and block this move, but you're forgetting how they've sworn up and down that they care so much about Park City, its residents, and its economic well being. This will bring more income to the downtown area, reduce traffic, and help workers who commute to Deer Valley. So I for one, expect Katz to be at the ribbon cutting! Not that I'm gonna hold my breath for that...scary situation at Monarch Mountain, a great ski hill in south/central Colorado, apparently the site of two failed on-mountain sexual assaults in the past two weeks. Chaffee County Sheriff's Office says the suspect rode the lift with his teenage assault targets, then followed them down a trail and forced them into the woods to sexually assault them. In the second attack, he fired a handgun. Fortunately, both girls escaped. Unfortunately, neither the resort nor the Sheriff's office reported this until after the second assault, so questions linger. Let's hope they catch the son-of-a-bitch....and the second run of the men's FIS World Cup slalom event in Zagreb just finished, Marcel Hirscher won with his usual precision. USA's David Chodounsky was threatening for his first podium with a third-best first run, but DNF'd in the second. This was a very tough day for all on the American ski team, so we applaud David's effort. Better days to come.

5 January 2015 Snow guns back on in the northeast...fresh snow this morning at Sunday River in Maine makes yesterday's warm rains a distant memory...foot of new snow at Grand Targhee and Jackson Hole with more on the way, up to three [3] feet predicted for today...New York's Gore Mountain has an interesting promotion on Wednesdays (except Pres week), bring any unopened Coca-Cola product and ski for $45, which is something like 40% off the window price. I don't exactly get it -- maybe they give the soda pop to the food bank to force poor people to go to the dentist? Anyway it's a good deal, best not to ask. Suggest you bring Minute Maid juice, that's a Coca-Cola product...looking southwest, season doing its typical fits-and-starts, Arizona Snowbowl now has Agassiz open to mid-station, with more terrain expected to open soon. What they do have looks great; here's a look up the Sunset lift this morning... ...and now to Montana for our Nordie love for the day; the Seeley Creek Nordic Trail System and the Double Arrow Lodge in Seeley Lake offer miles -- sorry, kilometers -- of groomed trails, free. Now that's a good price...prayers are with a 30ish male skier seriously hurt at Sunshine Village up in Banff, airlifted out yesterday with life-threatening injuries...interesting "new skier" program at Black Mountain of Maine, this grassroots area is leveraging all of its season passholders to bring 20 first time visitors, or get 20 first time visitors to go, or something. Once 20 "first timers" have filled out some sort of form and bought a ticket, the passholder gets the entire cost of their pass refunded. Pretty creative thinking!

4 January 2015 California side of Heavenly now open. Tahoe resorts in general saying it's better than last year, but they all still have shuttered section...Congratulations to Mikaela Shiffrin, victorious in this morning's slalom event in Zagreb; she's just one point behind Frida Hansdotter for the discipline lead. Hansdotter finished fourth today...lot of snow in New England, followed by -- you guessed it -- a LOT of freezing rain. So much so that Okemo had a delayed opening, as did Wildcat, which is a bit tough to take after the 'cat grabbed 10" of light fluffy powder before the temps spiked and the torrent fell...no time like the present to learn cross country skiing in the Pac NW; Anthony Lakes opening up the nordic trails with free tickets today...cold temps have arrived in Minnesota; Spirit Mountain in Duluth is closed today, not sure of others. Lutsen reports 89% open, and the mercury is hovering at 8 degrees -- below zero...on Michigan's UP it has snowed virtually every day in the last five at Mt. Bohemia and they have most of their terrain open...since we're talking about the midwest, pleased to report family scion Mark Gordon will be taking over as GM of Sundown Mountain Resort in Dubuque, IA. His parents Gene and Virginia, now in their 80s, founded the resort back in the early 1960s. Mark has a tough act to follow as Sundown was run quite capably by Mark Dietz for the past 14 years...City leaders in the Dallas Texas suburb of Grand Prairie are expected to vote on the proposed Grand Alps Resort of which the planned centerpiece is a domed ski area... ...and supposedly with runs as steep as 28 degrees...January is "National Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month," which shouldn't be a surprise, it has been for quite a few years now. Personally, I applaud the original committee for picking January over, say, September. Anyway, there's plenty of good opportunities for getting friends and family members introduced to the sport. One I like is at Mt. Spokane in Washington, which offers a three-pack of lifts/lessons/rentals for just $99...according to a round-up done by Business Insider, tests and various studies revealed the top 10 boards this season, and the 2015 Burton Family Tree Flight Attendant grabbed top honors. The preceding link will give you the rest of the story.

3 January 2015 Tough way to head into the new year for 40 or so skiers at California's China Peak, New Year's eve skiers were stuck on a chair for two hours after high winds blew the rope off. Fortunately the cable derailed on the downhill side, so nobody was in any real danger. Ski patrol downroped the stranded, who were given replacement lift tickets and gift cards by China Peak management. Now that's a heck of a lot nicer than what most resorts do, which is usually "have a nice day" or something like that...Montezuma Bowl now open at Arapahoe Basin...those same high winds also caused Badger Pass in Yosemite to close for the day...Bad moon rising, weather turning nasty across the midwest and east...earlier this week Montana's Lost Trail Powder Mountain and Missoula's Snow Bowl had to close due to frigid temps...rain now causing problems elsewhere; Indiana's Paoli Peaks suspended operations this morning, to preserve the snow pack and ride out the rain...FIS World Cup news, the ladies are in Zagreb for a slalom tomorrow. Catching up on recent results, ladies in Tirol last weekend, Sara Hector of Sweden won the GS, with Anna Fenninger and Mikaela Shiffrin rounding out the podium. That was followed by a slalom at the same locale on Monday, won by Mikaela Shiffrin. This put Shiffrin into 4th place in her hunt for the discipline globe; she's in 3rd in the overall. Tina Maze continues to lead the overall...the biggest news from the past week in the white circus has to be Travis Ganong's first victory, which came on the scary Deborah Compagnoni course in Santa Caterina Italy last Sunday. Kudos to Travis, who was joined on the podium by Austria's Matthias Mayer and Italian speedster Dominik Paris. Glad to see Mayer back from knee surgery skiing well...pleased to report that Oglebay Resort in Wheeling, WV opened for the season yesterday. Bet you never heard of it; it's a great learn-to-ski hill for the well-to-do in the Ohio Valley. Anyway, it looks like this... ...and yes, Oglebay closed today due to the weather...news of a twenty-something skier at Connecticut's Ski Sundown airlifted to a hospital yesterday afternoon, sources say he's recovering but we don't know from what, exactly. Sundown spokesman sez the young man was wearing a helmet...back to Ohio, Brandywine Ski Resort opened yesterday, joining Boston Mills and Alpine Valley which opened New Year's Eve; all three are shuttered today for the rain and freezing rain and wind and ice. Reports of a plague of locusts hitting the midwest are completely untrue, but not unexpected....weather is really mixed; for example Mountain Creek NJ managed to get quite a bit of new (for this season) terrain open today, snow falling there but should turn to ice and rain overnight...snow rain and ice also in the Poconos today, but it doesn't seem to matter as Shawnee Mountain has a good crowd on hand into this evening...night skiing in Massachusetts has nice crowds at Wachusett...and small but mighty Buck Hill in Minnesota is 100% open and the temps are dropping like a stone...the rain will pass, button up, cold weather on the way.

2 January 2015 Happy New Year! And while the weather is doing a sort of up-and-down, and looks like it will continue to do so, pleased to report that Hidden Valley Missouri opened for business this morning, photo below... ...on the other side of the state, Snow Creek opened New Year's Eve. It's an easy choice for Missourans: if you live near St. Louis you head for Hidden. If you live near Kansas City, you go to Creek. If you live in Springfield, uh, toss a coin...more midwest news, Lutsen Mountains planning to take down the venerable 45-year-old old gondy and put up a new one, 8-passenger Doppelmayr offering 2400 riders per hour. This ought to make a huge difference, as the existing gondy ferries just 300 per hour up the hill. We love those old gondies but this is a good move for Minnesota's biggest ski resort...tonight kicks off "Midnight Madness" at Crotched Mountain NH, skiing Fridays & Saturdays until 3 AM throughout January and February...elsewhere in the Granite State, man down off a chairlift at Gunstock earlier this week; he's ok...and a bit of a delay for some White Mountains bound skiers this morning, those bound for western NH destinations such as Loon and Waterville Valley were stopped in their tracks on I-93 when a rogue snow squall caused a 35 car pileup near Plymouth, NH...seems to be a bit of a story in the east this past week, people falling off lifts...5-year-old boy hurt at Willard Mountain New York, fell about 18 feet from a lift, said to have internal injuries, he was airlifted from the mountain...this just a couple days after 44-year-old Olga Filkin of New York City fell 25 feet from a chair at Hunter Mountain and died in the first aid room. Details are a bit sketchy, but it seems she was a regular at Hunter, and was riding the "D" lift with the restraint bar properly in place. Theory is her ski snagged on some sort of wire or support pole, and pulled her under the restraining bar and off the chair, whereupon she fell onto or near a lift tower base. Regardless of the specifics, Ms. Filkin leaves behind her husband and two children, and our thoughts and prayers are certainly with them. If you don't know it, the Hunter D lift is a fixed-grip triple that runs 2/3 up the mountain, adjacent to the Kaatskill Flyer...another fatality, this one more puzzling, involving 54-year-old Marc Krantz of Pepper Pike, Ohio. Skiing at Jackson Hole Mr. Krantz fell face down in a powdery ravine in the Brush Alley area, and asphyxiated. The autopsy revealed no trauma to the body; officials are still unsure what happened and why he remained face down in the snow with no apparent effort to get out...in Utah, State Rep. Kraig Powell, R-Heber City, wants a bill in the upcoming 2015 Legislature that would criminalize leaving the on-slope scene of a skiing accident. Much of the Park City area already has this law in place, so the whole thing looks a bit knee-jerk. Reminds me of the Illinois State Representative from inner city Chicago (which has no affected resorts) who wanted to make helmets mandatory for all Illinois skiers and snowboarders. Turns out he had never been to a ski resort, let alone skied or boarded. Yet he still seemed to think it was more important than enacting a motorcycle helmet law for the Land of Lincoln. OK, ok, Mr. Powell isn't quite that far off, but you'd think he'd do some research before taking action. Anyway, it's probably a reasonable law.

24 December 2014 It's feast or famine, folks...first the feast, Grand Targhee 100% open...two feet of powder has fallen at Snowbird over the past couple days...even in the east, Sugarloaf has just about everything open except for the summit snowfields...and now, sadly, the famine. That's in the Pacific Northwest, where snow levels are about ten percent of what they were a year ago. Mt. Hood Meadows hosted some sort of festival this weekend, launching pineapples from catapults, I guess to appease the snow gods. They opened Monday for the season, although not much happening...Timberline down to one lift...snowline is above the 7,000 mark, so Oregonians gotta head to Mt Bachelor which has a half dozen or so lifts running...Hoodoo and Willamette Pass both shuttered for the rain...bright spot in all of this gloom and doom is Mt. Ashland down by Crater Lake. They are closed now due to the rain, but they did manage to get some beginner/novice terrain open last week which is really good news. Mt. A didn't open last year at all....the east is a mixed bag; Bristol NY has quite a bit of terrain, including some nordic trails...Belleayre now spinning Tomahawk and West Side, not sure why, neither Dot Nebel nor Deer Run are open. The Belle of the Catskills does have XC ops in full swing. Base ain't great, but it's there...in the Carolinas Sugar Mountain has 11 slopes open, it's raining, snow is only on the trails and eroding due to negative thermal activity...temps better at least in Michigan, Boyne Mountain a bit over half open...Mt. Bohemia will open for the season the day after Christmas, won't be all of their terrain but should be enough to keep people busy...more New England news from our friends at NewEnglandSkiIndustry.com, word is Mt Eustis in Littleton NH has some problems with the rope tow and likely won't have lift served skiing this season...just a word about that New England Ski Industry site, if the subject matter is of interest to you, it's one you ought to bookmark...snow picture is grand in Idaho, Bogus Basin in great shape and they'll start night skiing operations this Friday...and now for some business type news...on Monday a Los Angeles jury awarded some $22 million to Leslie McLaughlin of Torrance, CA who suffered serious injury at Mountain High West back in 2012. Ms. McLaughlin was at the bottom of Woodworth Gulch when she found herself suddenly airborne, landed on her back and has been paralyzed from the waist down since then. Her attorneys said it was an unmarked table top feature, but Mountain High's legal team said it was a "staging area" designed to separate Woodworth Gulch from an section of small features. Apparently they had plenty of signs that Ms. McLaughlin ignored or otherwise didn't see, since the jury found her 82% responsible for the incident. So the damages will be reduced accordingly, netting McLaughlin something like $4 million for an incident she was legally 82% responsible for. I don't know what to think about this one. I love visiting California...December 2nd collision at Park City Mountain Resort had a 24 year old boarder traveling at a high rate of speed smash into a 65 year old skier who suffered multiple injuries. Skier says boarder should be prosecuted, boarder says skier equally responsible, police are on the case and will decide whether to file charges shortly. You know the rules, just like cars, mostly. Skier or boarder must yield to traffic ahead (don't hit someone in front of you). Skier or boarder must ensure that they are visible to traffic. If skier is stopped, must be on the side of the trail. Stopped traffic cannot enter lane of travel if it impedes moving traffic. Pretty simple; figure out who did what and the rules determine the responsible party. And then there's always some idiot who says "it's like part of the sport, and like if you don't want to get run into then don't ski, don't be on the mountain." In this case the idiot is one Lange Leah, a Park City skier who spouted this stupidity to reporters from Salt Lake City's Channel 13...shout out to Royalton, VT, town I lived in about forty years ago...seems Royalton resident Lyndon Mann was doing some backcountry action at Pico Peak and got all kinds of turned around on the back side of the mountain Monday afternoon. 7 PM he was regarded as missing and the search was underway. Vermont State Police, Killington Police and Vermont Fish and Wildlife personnel helped him find his way out at 4:30 AM yesterday, safe and sound....so whether you are suffering through rain and 50 degree temps, or just found your way out of 10 hours overnight in a freezing snowbound wilderness, this is a good time to sit back with a bottle of something unhealthy, enjoy the fire, and dream of brisk chilly days and nice powder turns in January. And if you attend a Christmas Eve service, may the snowflakes softly swirl under the lights after the requisite chorale of Silent Night. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Below: Scene at Mt. Ashland, Oregon about two weeks ago. Yes it has turned for the worse, but at least they are way ahead of last season. It's one of the few bright spots in an otherwise dismal Oregonian ski season thus far.

22 December 2014 Well what the heck, Lindsey Vonn won the World Cup Downhill event Saturday in Val d'Isere edging Germany's Viktoria Rebensburg AND Austria's Elisabeth Goergl by 2/10ths; the latter two shared second place leaving Lara Gut in fourth. This win propelled Vonn into the Downhill points lead. Tina Maze finished 7th and remains atop the women's overall. Yesterday, Vonn crashed in the Super G which allowed Goergl to top the podium, ahead of Anna Fenninger and Maze...the men were in Val Gardena Saturday, where Norway's newly shining superstar Kjetil Jansrud edged Italy's Dominik Paris by half a second in the Super G. They moved to Alta Badia yesterday, and Austria's reigning World Champ Marcel Hirscher edged Ted Ligety by a second-and-a-half in the GS. This morning the men's road show rolled on into Madonna di Campiglio for another tech race, with German great Felix Neureuther edging countryman Fritz Dopfer for the win. Swede Jens Byggmark finished third, his first podium in two years. Byggmark, if you remember, used to dominate the slalom events at Kitzbuhel in the late 2000s...how about that Lindsey Vonn...our friends at NewEnglandSkiIndustry.com reports some good news/bad news out of northern New Hampshire; first the good, it seems that Les Otten's plans to revamp and reopen Balsams/Wilderness are progressing nicely and the ownership group has applied for a snowmaking permit. And the bad, seems Lancaster's bootstrap effort to reopen Mt. Prospect Ski Tow has hit a glitch, their insurance policy was cancelled by some insurance company. If you or any of your loved ones are in the insurance business, kindly please skip the next sentence. Some insurance companies suck. I'll let you decide which ones...rains headed to the northeast, some areas like Bear Creek in Pennsy have scheduled to close the 24th and 25th in anticipation of the deluge...already hit the midwest, Wild Mountain Minnesota closed today as rain fell in buckets...better news if I head to Oregon, Anthony Lakes Mountain Resort is 100% open alpine, 100% open nordie and that's a lot earlier than usual...let's move down to the Wasatch and crazy snow at Snowbird the past couple days has basically paralyzed most of the mountain; they're spinning the Chickadee lift today and that is it. As you can probably tell by the name, Chickadee doesn't quite serve the Regulator Johnson or Mach Schnell trails...Sugarbush Vermont doing something cool, beginning January 8th they'll open Mt. Ellen on Thursdays with lift tix at just thirty bucks. I applaud this kind of stuff...back to Utah, Powder Mountain will open the Hidden Lake and Sundown lifts tomorrow...in Wyoming, so much snow at Jackson Hole the darn waffle cabin was buried...in Maine Sunday River dropped the ropes on the natural terrain trails out on Oz...but it's not all wonderful news in Maine; just 50 miles south of Sunday River, Lost Valley has announced that they won't be opening until after the New Year, unless some sort of Christmas miracle occurs. They're staring at patches of grass on a semi-snowy hill, with heavy rain and 50 degree temps in the forecast...thank goodness for snowmaking, drizzle and ice right now at Virginia's biggie Wintergreen, but they'll turn that around quickly with their system, one of the best in the country...move up north a bit in the banana belt and you'll find outstanding conditions at Pocono stalwarts Shawnee and Camelback, although we're afraid they'll get some sort of setback from the pending rains.

Below: New England season thus far is hit or miss depending on location, but it's definitely game on at Attitash, as this ski school group will attest.

19 December 2014 Seems the major news organizations are making a big deal about some World Cup news, namely that Bode Miller is on target for coming back in time for Wengen, and that Lindsey Vonn is strongly considering opting out of any future slalom events. Oh, and some guy named Steven Nyman WON THE DOWNHILL IN VAL GARDENA this morning. Naturally you won't find that mentioned. But it happened, and it's pretty darn fantastic. Nyman edged Kjetil Jansrud to grab top spot, incidentally his 3rd career win on the Val Gardena piste; he just finds some kind of groove there. Yes he knows how to get down that hill, but by golly after finishing 35th in the downhill standings last year, I wasn't quite expecting this. Kudos to big Steve! Super G in Val Gardena tomorrow. Ladies meanwhile in Val d'Isere for a couple of speed events, first up will be the downhill tomorrow. Anna Fenninger fastest in practice today; Linz was third...one of those small but super close to New York City ski hills, Tuxedo Ridge (previously known as Sterling Forest) opens this weekend...and in the Empire State Capitol region, Maple Ski Ridge opened for the season today...in the Catskills Plattekill will be open this weekend with $35 tickets and some sort of free learn-to-ski packages...Swain New York offering free skiing for any student on Christmas Eve...New York City area skiers and boarders can enjoy night skiing at Shawnee in the Poconos starting tonight...in Vermont Bolton Valley off to a fantastic start, even had tree skiing open. Show up Sunday in a Santa suit and you'll ski for free...demo day tomorrow at Mount Snow...in Maine the other Black Mountain opens for the season tomorrow, with skiing from the summit...big neighbor Sugarloaf set to drop the ropes on all of their side country tomorrow...Indiana's Paoli Peaks has the guns on, aiming for Christmas we hope...Jackson Hole looking at possibility of two feet of fresh snow this weekend...new terrain open today at Loveland. Well, it's not new to Loveland, it's new for this season....fresh snow at both Vail and Copper...move south to Leadville and personal fave Ski Cooper is open on all but one trail...in Idaho both Bogus Basin and Brundage opened today; Tamarack too but you have to up and download since they only have snow up high. Sun Valley opening Baldy's Bowls and the Mayday lift today; they'll be serving up six lifts tomorrow if you have the $115 necessary to ride them. Yikes. Have a great weekend!

17 December 2014 Well it isn't all milk and honey in the ski industry this December; New York's small but mighty HoliMont out in Ellicottville is pushing opening day back, now to Christmas Day...in Pennsy Montage Mountain is opening tomorrow (Thursday); they're doing a throwback thing with tickets priced at $19.84 in recognition of their 30th season. If you recall this is the area that went through some debt issues, new ownership seems to have it all on track now. But surely the highlight (or lowlight) was when the name changed to Snö Mountain. Best of all they had a moose character between "snö" and "mountain", with moose and antlers forming a "T" shape...first training run today FIS World Cup men's downhill Val Gardena had American Steve Nyman atop the timing pylon, ahead of DH points leader Kjetil Jansrud. It's only a training run, but it does mean all eyes are on Nyman...speaking of Americans, don't look now but uh, somebody named Lindsey Vonn is in second place in womens Super G and Downhill...I'm first in line to eat my words on that one. But to my credit, I've said repeatedly that Lindsey is certainly one of the best of all time, male or female, even if she never skied again. Watching Lindsey push out of the gatehouse and take the first turn reminds me of when Bobby Orr started a rush. Spectators stop talking, opponents start worrying...hey some great news Downeast, Big Squaw will be opening this weekend...Granite Peak Wisconsin has announced a $50 million expansion plan, complete with new lifts, a dozen new trails, slopeside lodging, and summer hoo ha. Owner Charles Skinner hopes to line up the approvals and kick off construction in 2016...tough times in the Al- states...first Alabama, their one and only Cloudmont Resort has had warmer temps than usual, hasn't even begun snowmaking yet...at the other extreme, Alaska's Alyeska Resort has some snow, but not nearly as much as they need, still trying to open Friday...and back to Maine, Eaton Mountain still trying for state approvals to open Dec 26, if you've been following what that operation has gone through it would be a wonderful Christmas miracle...and a reminder to all of you who like Maine and/or train wrecks, Downeast Dickering is on TV tonight at 10 pm.

Below: Read it quickly...! Anyway, happier days have returned and Montage Mountain opens tomorrow.

16 December 2014 Great season thus far at Utah's fave Snowbird; they're gonna drop the ropes at Mineral Basin on Friday...Bromley VT and Cranmore NH both doing a free learn-to-ski with gear this Sunday...Cali's Dodge Ridge scheduled to open Wednesday...Las Vegas Ski and Snowboard Resort finally got the long awaited snow and cold and did open this past weekend...Midwest biggie Lutsen now has 3 out of 4 hills open...Arapahoe Basin has the Pallavicini lift running, serving some of the side trails. Pally face still needs a bit more snow...Sugarloaf Maine has opened Brackett Basin. They also groomed and opened their XC trails this weekend for plenty of Nordie love. Folks, this is really an incredible early season...Personal Utah fave Powder Mountain is now scheduled to open Thursday. It will just be Timberline lift, but hey! Also $40 tix on Thursday...Detroit metro area Pine Knob closed the past couple of days following the tragic death of a 51-year-old Janet Reed of St. Claire Shores on Friday, skiing and hit a tree, wound up in a catch fence. Reed was conscious and even described her fall, but was complaining of chest pains on the hill. She rode down on a snowmobile, then was taken to McLaren Oakland Hospital where she succumbed to chest trauma. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family.

15 December 2014 and mucho apologies as the site has been on hiatus for 10 days, trying to launch our new venture, jumping the gun and paying the price of nothing happening...lots to talk about, notably the victorious return of Lindsey Vonn last weekend in Lake Louise, taking a win and a second place in the speed events...big weekend in Vermont, Killington expanded terrain to include Needle's Eye and Bear Peak; red-headed stepchild Pico opened Saturday with their most opening terrain ever...Mount Snow celebrating their 60th season on Friday, had huge crowds for the occasion and a couple of lift issues they handled gracefully...Pac NW Anthony Lakes now open for the season...New England wasn't the only New with snow; Mexico had better with Taos grabbing 14" of fluff out of the sky...Vail Resorts Inc. formally announced plans to connect Park City with The Canyons; lynchpin will be an 8-passenger gondy, going from the Silverlode Lift at Park City to the Flatiron Lift at Canyons. Says the resort will be 7,300 skiable acres...Boyne Resorts has finally announced Karl Strand to succeed longtime Sugarloaf GM John Diller who is slated to retire. Strand is currently VP of mountain ops at Sunday River...and last but not least, Peak Resorts who went public a while back, rewarded investors with a nice little ten cent dividend...good news out of southern California where a Friday storm dumped enough snow to revitalize Mountain High in the San Gabriels, and in the San Bernardinos Snow Valley and the Big Bear Lake operations. Crowds reached 3,000 at Bear Mountain and Snow Summit, but spokesman for Big Bear says normally that number is 7,000 for a weekend crowd this time of year....back to FIS World Cup news, Are Sweden yesterday saw Austria's Marcel Hirscher notch his 26th win by edging Felix Neureuther in a slalom event; a day earlier Hirscher scored his 25th when he topped Ted Ligety in the GS...sorry to report that last week 22-year-old Rob Miles, a University of Colorado senior from Coral Springs, FL was killed after striking a tree last week at Eldora Ski Resort in Boulder County Colorado. Miles was on the intermediate Jolly Jug run. Last prior fatality at Eldora was in 2008....speaking of Colorado, the State Supreme Court announced that it will hear a case that hinges on whether or not in-bounds avalanches are an inherent risk of resort skiing. It may sound odd to most of us, but keep in mind January 2012, when teenager Taft Conlin was killed by a snowslide on Prima Cornice at Vail, and Christopher Norris was buried in a slide within the boundaries of Winter Park, both on the same day.

Below: Remembering Fred "Fuzzy" Thurston #63, here leading #5 Paul Hornung on one of Green Bay's legendary power sweeps. Thanks for the memories...rest in peace.

4 December 2014 In the Land of Enchantment Taos opens for the season today with limited operations; Sipapu spins 'em tomorrow and Ski Santa Fe drops the ropes on Saturday. Picture is bleak in Albuquerque where Sandia Peak has just two inches of white stuff on the ground...Snowmobile trails are open on the Upper Peninsula...More ski areas starting to open as the first weekend of December rears its head...Massachusetts has Jiminy re-opening...Men's FIS World Cup 3rd DH training run on the Birds of Prey course at Beaver Creek, women meanwhile have another DH training run still scheduled up in Lake Louise...this Saturday NY City metro area skiers and riders can flesh out their gear needs at the annual ski swap in Sparta, NJ...back to the UP, Mount Bohemia changing its season pass program this year, used to be you bought a cheap pass and then paid a dollar (yes, $1) every time you went to the mountain. This year they have a one-time $7 processing fee and $6 usage fee replacing the daily dollar. Normally I would raise a red flag and say "hey, they're nickel-and-diming everyone" but not gonna do it, fact is if you buy a season pass -- which you can do right at Mt Bohemia's website -- and you buy it this Saturday you will pay just $99 plus the aforementioned fees. Now I don't care who you are, that is a heck of a deal. Regular readers know that I don't hype ski area deals unless they are really, really good deals. Anyway do it Saturday or else you pay $340. they are an unusual bunch, I will say that. There's also nordie love: Bohemia XC season pass is just ten bucks, but again, only on Saturday...Pennsy's little-bit-of-Vermont known as Elk Mountain opened for the season this morning....just bought my daughter a sticker that says "Nobody Cares That You Tele" heh heh heh...not much happening in the Pacific Northwest, sorry to say, Mt Baker, Stevens Pass, The Summit at Snoqualmie and White Pass are all sitting empty, waiting for more snow. In Oregon Mt. Hood Meadows was running some sort of park and the Buttercup lift, but even that's shut down. Timberline and Mt. Bachelor, as well as Crystal up in Washington are all open, but operations are limited at all three...Las Vegas Ski and Snowboard is also oddly quiet; occasionally they fight for first-to-open honors...Vermont's Magic Mountain heavily dependent on natural snow, plus early season pass sales to fund their manmade snow efforts, hasn't had enough of either to get the season going. I'm hoping things pick up there, it's an outstanding ski hill and the operation has come a long way in recent years.

Below: This was the scene at Elk Mountain Pennsy this morning, opening day. Looks like Suzy Q has good coverage.

3 December 2014 Friday is opening day at Jackson Hole; they certainly have the snow...in Utah, snowing as I type this at Powder Mountain, they're hoping to open Friday as well...the early season bliss in the northeast left almost as quickly as it came, although the New England areas have had a mix of rain and snow the past couple days -- in other words, business as usual. I guess the best weather fell at Sugarloaf and Sunday River, both of whom gleaned some 6-8" of mostly frozen precipitation...Lindsey Vonn back on the snow and placed 8th in the second DH training run at Lake Louise today...and at Beaver Creek Ted Ligety also back, hand in splint, apparently coming back in a downhill?! Ted the Shred placed 7th in today's training run...Alyeska hoping to open Friday...much needed snow in the Tahoe region, about a foot at Donner, 9" reported at Boreal.

1 December 2014 And so it is December, and some rather unseasonable weather hitting ski regions from California to New England, however the week as a whole looks pretty good for the first week of December. Easy to be spoiled by recent snows across much of the country...almost a foot of snow in southern New York prompted family operation Mt. Peter to open for the weekend; they may reopen Dec 6 weather permitting...Killington VT open across five major lift pods...nearby Okemo does indeed have their new six pack spinning...great news out of Skowhegan, Maine where Eaton Mountain will be operating two surface lifts this season for skiing and boarding, target date is December 26. This is one of those small but mighty local hills that ran into tough times when the new owner was nearly killed by a wayward grooming machine about five or six years ago. Well now they've gotten past that and he's set to open a rope and a handle tow to access about a third of the mountain. Keep your fingers crossed, and by all means if you're up north on I-95 pay them a visit this winter...FIS World Cup women were in Aspen this weekend, Austrians Eva-Marie Brem and Kathrin Zettel finished 1-2 in the GS, followed by Federica Brignone of France. Slalom yesterday had Austrian Nicole Hosp edging Sweden's Frida Hansdotter, with Zettel rounding out the podium. Mikaela Shiffrin finished 6th in the GS and a disappointing 5th in the slalom, dropping her to second in the overall standings with Zettel taking the lead...the men meanwhile were in Lake Louise where Norwegian star Kjetil Jansrud owned the mountain, edging hometown fave Manny Osborne-Paradis in the downhill and Austria's Matthias Mayer in the Super G. Marco Sullivan tallied a respectable 5th place finish. Jansrud leaped ahead of tech weenie Marcel Hirscher in the overall.

News prior to December 1st is archived at Gondyline.com Ski/Snowboard News Archive, dating back to January 5, 2004.

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Use this to get Lift Tickets at Discount: There is a "clearinghouse" of sorts that many ski areas use to raise cash by selling discount tickets in advance, called Liftopia . If you haven't used this service, it is usually best to know for certain that you are going on a specific date. The deeply discounted tickets must be purchased in advance; generally up to two days out. The sticking point is that some ski resorts only make a limited number of tickets available to Liftopia for any given day, so they might be sold out if you wait too long...so, as soon as you are absolutely, positively sure that you will be skiing on a certain day, click this link to get deeply discounted tickets . I've used this service many times, usually when I am absolutely certain I will be skiing on a specific date. Some resorts offer "flex" tickets with which you can specify the date, and some have a few different tiers of pricing. In other words, you might be able to get a lift ticket that can be used on different days, but you'll pay a little more for that privilege. You need to have access to a printer to print out your receipt, and you have to take identification with you to the mountain. I've knocked a third off -- even half off -- the price of some tickets. Not every area participates, but it's well worth checking before you head to the slopes.

A tiny portion of your Liftopia purchase helps fund this website, at no added cost.

Ski Movies for Mere Mortals

Did you ever feel like those big money ski movies are often a big let-down? You get all pumped up for the new release from some ski film company, and it's mostly incredible footage of guys jumping out of helicopters and shredding down some un-named mountain on the far side of the globe. They're neck deep in powder, skiing lines that you'll never, ever see. If you want ski movies you could actually relate to, a bunch of guys called The Meatheads, from Burlington, VT have made a series of "Ski The East" films. They film at real resorts like Sugarloaf, Blue Mountain, Big Boulder, Mount Snow, Ski Sundown, Stowe, Jay, Mountain Creek, Killington, Sunday River...urban locations ranging from Virginia to Quebec...mogul skiing with The Hammer and Radio Ron...and backcountry throughout New York, New England, and the Chic Chocs. It's simply fantastic -- and since it's the same terrain we can get to, it's inspirational!

Their most popular current release is No Matter What , which received the ski equivalent of an Oscar for the Jay Peak powder segment, filmed during 2012 of all things. One that is probably their best is from a year ago, called Prime Cut . Another favorite is Wanderland: An East Coast Ski Thriller. All Meatheads DVDs have hours of "bonus" footage, so it's like getting three ski movies for the price of one. The links go to Amazon.com, which enables you to order and return if you don't like them. And a small percentage of the sale helps us pay the expenses of this website, at no extra cost to you.

Here's a preview, courtesy Youtube...